Allergies, Colds, Flu And COVID-19

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Day 198: Stay Safe Minnesota

Health experts are encouraging all Americans to flu shots in time due to worries of a ‘twindemic’ with COVID-19.

As the cold season is starting in Minnesota, it is also the beginning of the autumn allergies, cold and flu season. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic around the country, healthcare experts are encouraging all Americans to be aware of allergies, colds, flu and COVID-19 symptoms and to take flu shots early. Health experts believe, having had the shot makes it much less likely to hospitalized or die.

The New York Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. writes in a recent article that though flu and COVID-19 symptoms appear similar, there are some clues that help identify between the two. The following illustration from the CDC compares the allergies and COVID-19 symptoms.

Screenshot from the CDC.

Flu Symptoms

  • Common Flu: fever, headaches, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, stuffed sinuses, coughing and sneezing — and, for infants, ear infections. Some victims, especially children, get diarrhea or vomiting too. In severe cases, the most common complication is pneumonia. The typical signs of a flu pneumonia are shortness of breath, especially when you exert yourself, and unusually rapid breathing — doctors typically look for that in children — and sometimes pain in the chest or back.
  • COVID-19 Symptoms: the most common symptoms are high fever, sometimes with chills, a dry cough and fatigue. Many Covid-19 victims suddenly lose their sense of smell — not because they have a stuffy nose, but because they don’t register even strong odors like onions or coffee. Additional symptoms of CIVID-19 are found in this CDC guide.

The following illustration from healthline differentiates symptoms for flu, common cold, allergies and COVID-19.

Screenshot source: Healthline.

Protection from Seasonal Allergies

The CDC suggests the following guidelines to get protection from the allergies:

  • Limit your time outdoors and seek indoor spaces with clean air.
  • Create a cleaner air space at home to protect yourself from outdoor air irritants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Use a portable air cleaner in one or more rooms.
  • Keep your cleaner air space a comfortable temperature by using air conditioners, heat pumps, fans, and window shades.
  • If you have a forced air system in your home, consult a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional about different filters (HEPA or MERV-13 or higher) and settings (“Recirculate” and “On” rather than “Auto”) that can be used to reduce indoor air irritants.
  • If outdoors, avoid activities that stir up pollen, such as mowing lawns or raking leaves. When you return indoors, take a shower and change your clothes.

Dr Kristen Kendrick, a physician in Georgetown University School of Medicine suggests the following guides to prepare for the fall ‘sick’ season:

  • Establish a relationship with a primary care provider before you get sick.
  • Keep your vaccinations up to date.
  • Got seasonal allergies that flare in the fall? Nip symptoms in the bud with early treatment
  • Be ready to check for fever
  • Familiarize with the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker or other online support tools from your local health care system, like this one put together by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  • Keep maintaining social distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands
  • Pay attention to your symptoms and know the red flags
Coronavirus Pandemic Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of Oct 10, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 110,828 (out of 2,288,662 tested) with 2,131 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of Oct 10, 3:23 p.m.) there are 7,702,783 confirmed covid19 infection with 214,171 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 37,019,381 with 1,070,275 deaths.