How different is the Covid-19 from the common flu?
As we are living in the new norm, there are lots of aspects to be learned and taken in within such a short period of time. From hand hygiene, proper mask use, to social distancing, appropriate standard procedure at work, restaurants and shops. However, one can still have a small risk to get sick regardless of the precautions taken. With that said, how do we know what we have for sure? Stay put and do your Covid-19 test from your home, by knowing the differences between common flu and the notorious Covid-19.
At this point, it needs to be admitted that we do not know everything yet as researchers are still studying the virus and the disease. We do know that the illness is eerily similar to the flu, or even the common cold, making it a little bit confusing to tell them apart. Compared to the flu, Covid-19 appears to have a longer incubation period. Symptoms may appear generally within 5 days, up to 14 days. In contrast, flu symptoms will start showing in 1-3 days.
So, what are the symptoms of Covid-19 infection? They can range from milder symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and headache, to more serious problems like shortness of breath and other respiratory issues, which may require ventilation support. This is one of the major problems facing healthcare providers as the number of available ventilators are very limited. Not everyone that needs it will be lucky enough to get it. There are also cases where patients had reported the loss of sense of taste and smell, although not common. Common flu usually comes with body ache, headache, loss of appetite and chills apart from the cough and fever.
Now that we know how people are affected, how about the outcome of these 2 infections? While the flu did kill tens of thousands individuals each year, with estimated 29,000 to 59,000 deaths for the current season by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current pandemic of Covid-19 has reached a death count of more than 100,000 in the United States alone. Overall, this pandemic has caused about 350,000 deaths worldwide.
With a higher death rate, the fact that Covid-19 spreads more easily is not helping. World leaders have taken multiple measures to curb the spread, by advertising face mask use, proper hand hygiene and social distancing, as the virus is known to spread by tiny droplets from sneeze and cough, along with direct contact with an infected person and indirect contact through surfaces or objects handled by those with the virus. In some settings, sanitation and disinfection processes of premises are also done. According to the CDC, the flu can also spread via contact, although less often.
As days go, we learn more facts about the virus. One of them is the infection can cause some serious, deathly complications. Based on studies done in China, these complications include acute respiratory failure, pneumonia and acute cardiac injury, to name a few. It was also suggested that Covid-19 infection causes the formation of blood clots, which can injure more vital organs, as new studies raised when it was observed that cases of young patients with Covid-19 started getting complicated with stroke.
Management of Covid-19 will hopefully be smoother as we are learning more each day. While the symptoms could provide us with some clues whether it is Covid-19, the flu or just a cold, screening by swabs is still needed to confirm any suspicion of infection. Besides self-quarantine, getting tested is the best solution if one has a history of potential exposure. Be safe and stay home.