Fall is known to be a time when illnesses start to spread more rapidly. This can be partially attributed to cooler weather, but mainly attributed to people spending more time indoors and in close proximity to one another. 2020 has already been a challenging year for the medical community, but the cold and flu season is just beginning. Knowing how to manage and identify seasonal illnesses in 2020 is vital to protecting your own health and the health of your community.
According to the CDC, there were 410,000 – 740,000 flu related hospitalizations and 24,000 – 62,000 flu related deaths from October of last year to April of this year. Those numbers probably seem high for something that many people think of as “just the flu”, but it’s a serious illness that can have deadly outcomes. People suffering from the flu often have fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, and congestion. The flu can be prevented using the yearly flu vaccine that becomes available each September. The flu vaccine is over 80% effective at preventing the virus and helping you stay out of the hospital!
Seasonal allergy sufferers know that the fall typically means their symptoms start to get worse. As leaves fall and pollen counts shift, this is to be expected. Seasonal allergy symptoms vary from person to person but sneezing, runny nose, cough, and itchy or watery eyes are among the most common symptoms. Seasonal allergies can be managed with a variety of over the counter and prescription medications including pills, nasal sprays, eye drops, and allergy shots. Seasonal allergy symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms, so managing your seasonal allergies is important to ensure you’re able to distinguish if COVID-19 symptoms do arise.
The Common Cold
The common cold is a virus that appears each fall and winter similarly to the flu, although there’s no vaccine to protect against the common cold. Cold symptoms usually are much milder than flu symptoms. You can expect sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and a headache. A common cold can be managed at home in the majority of cases using over the counter medications. The cold does not cause a fever, which helps to distinguish it from COVID-19.
As these other illnesses start to get worse with the seasons changing, COVID-19 cases continue to rise as well. COVID-19 symptoms can range greatly in severity, while some people won’t experience any symptoms at all. Symptoms can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, and a sudden loss of taste or smell. Since COVID-19 is so similar to the other illnesses discussed, it’s best to stay away from others until you can get tested and confirm if you do or do not have COVID-19.
Flu shots, COVID-19 testing, allergy treatments, and medical assessments to determine what’s causing your symptoms can all be found at your local urgent care center!