How Is the Flu Different From COVID-19

How Is the Flu Different From COVID-19

Article By: American Academy of Pediatrics
Summarized by Robert Dabrow, MD, FAAP

Both the flu (influenza) and COVID-19 will be spreading this fall and winter, especially among people who are not vaccinated. The two contagious respiratory viruses cause similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell them apart. Fortunately, we have annual vaccines to help prevent the flu for age 6 months and up. In addition, this flu season, we have COVID vaccines for anyone 5 years old and up. Make sure your child gets a flu shot if they haven’t already, and their COVID-19 shot as soon as they are eligible.

Is it COVID-19 or the flu?
Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing to confirm a diagnosis. People can be infected with both flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19. Generally, however, flu symptoms show up about 1 to 4 days after being exposed to a sick person. Typically, a person experiences COVID-19 symptoms about 5 days after being exposed to someone who is sick, but symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after infection.

We have been overwhelmed with patients and families concerned if their child has been exposed to and/or is infected with COVID-19. What we observed in January was that almost 90% of children in our community with fever associated with flu like upper respiratory symptoms (such as runny nose, cough, sore throat, vague aches and pains) have the Omicron Variant of Covid-19. In addition, cases of Influenza continue to rise in our community. Fortunately, as the media has recently publicized, this variant is generally not associated with severe disease or lung infection or more serious complications. Most children recover completely in 3-5 days with supportive care (analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and do not need to be evaluated by a medical professional. Testing does not change the outcome for most healthy children and testing does not change the quarantine recommendations from the CDC.

As a result of this recent surge in cases and lack of test availability, we have been forced to discontinue routine office testing for COVID-19 but we still have the resources to perform rapid Influenza testing. This will continue to be helpful for those patients who may need anti-viral medication for Influenza. Of course, the best measures to prevent both COVID-19 and Influenza for your child continues to be vaccination and we will offer vaccination for both diseases as long as our supply is available.

How is the Flu different from Covid?
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2021)

For the full AAP Article, CLICK HERE!

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