Covid-19, flu or a common cold?

Autumn is approaching, and this year the most melancholy time of the year is tinged with anxiety: we will have to live with Covid-19, We have to differentiate flu and colds, which are typical for this time of year, from coronavirus infection.. How to do it? Dr. José Daniel Alcázar, head of the pulmonology department at the Quironsalud Hospital in Malaga, explains that yes. there are different symptoms which allow us to distinguish between these three states.

Cough, shortness of breath and fever are the most alarming symptoms. of the three, but Dr. Alcazar admits that “In the initial phase of these three processes, the symptoms may be virtually indistinguishable.; However, although most of the associated symptoms are not specific to any pathology, there are some that can help in making a diagnosis.

To differentiate the most common fall and winter conditions from colds, flu, and now COVID-19, the doctor explains that “we can look at a number of symptoms that can give us a clue, such as: heat and availability severe fatigue or asthenia; more associated with the flu or COVID process than with a common cold. Fever is usually present with both flu and COVID, but is very rare with a cold. Also beware of the presence of respiratory complications; “Much more common with Covid than with flu, although some can happen too, but not with a cold.”

However, the doctor emphasizes attention to respiratory symptoms, coughing and shortness of breath; “These are the most alarming symptoms that best identify a COVID case because they are infrequent and not as common with the flu, much less the common cold, where symptoms of congestion and runny nose predominate.”

On the other side, Flu usually begins much more suddenly. than COVID-19. “When we have the flu, one day we can be fine and the next day, for example, we have a very high fever, whereas Covid usually has a more gradual onset. The incubation period is also important, because with the flu it usually lasts 3-4 days, and with Covid it is about two weeks,” Alcazar says.

Treatment and actions

Although there are antiviral drugs designed specifically to treat influenza and COVID-19, to date there is no specific treatment that is clearly effective for any of the three processes.

“Treatment in all three cases is usually service and if you suspect COVID-19 with symptoms such as respiratory complications or fever lasting more than four days, you will have to go to the Emergency Service for practice. additional tests diagnose and rule out pneumoniawhich can lead to hospitalization,” says pulmonologist Jose Daniel Alcazar.

Thus, the doctor notes that when symptoms are minorsuch as mild fatigue, discomfort, runny nose, they should be treated the usual way; supportive medications without the need to go to the emergency department for this.

However, if the fever persists for three, four or five days and there is also shortness of breath, “you should always go to the emergency room for evaluation.”

Start of a new course

With the start of the new school year and given the uncertainty of many parents, the doctor reminds them that if the child develops respiratory symptoms or fever“must avoid going to school and consult your pediatrician for instructions on how to proceed.

Another reason for action is epidemiological factor of contact with other patients with a confirmed diagnosis COVID-19, which should always be an element of concern, forcing us to exclude the presence of this disease in all members who have been in contact with us using PCR tests.

Likewise, “given the epidemiological context, in the case of fever lasting more than four days in people over 30 years of age with no prior exposure to the risk, COVID-19 will also need to be excluded,” concludes the head of the hospital’s pulmonology department. Quironsalud Malaga.

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