(CNN) – Do you have a sore throat, runny nose and muscle aches? It could be a common cold, a case of the flu – or Covid-19.
All diseases have similar symptoms, sometimes making it difficult to distinguish which disease is caused by the weather.
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Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to spread as the United States enters a time of year when allergic diseases are on the rise. As much of the country reopens and people gather close together, it’s important to know if you’re not feeling well because of seasonal sniffles or Covid-19 – that’s why Experts have recommended vaccination to reduce risk and protect against infection.
“It’s important to remember that vaccines are like a ‘warning’ call to your immune system. So its ability to identify, target and destroy the virus is much higher every time we give one more dose of the vaccine,” El-Sayed said. “It makes sense that the symptoms you would experience would be milder if you had been vaccinated.”
However, that doesn’t mean infections shouldn’t be taken seriously, especially when considering the risk of overwhelming health care systems.
“Just because an individual’s risk of severe illness may be lower, that doesn’t mean that at the societal level, Omicron doesn’t pose a real risk,” he said. “Even a small percentage of a relatively large number can be a relatively large number.”
Many cases of Covid-19 infection can feel like a cold or the flu. Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, a healthcare practitioner at National Children’s Hospital, says the best way to know is to get tested.
“Without having to do another test, I would say it’s really hard to tell right now,” says Combs. “We just need to treat cold symptoms in the same group” as Covid-19.
Symptoms to look for
The early signs of colds, flu, and Covid-19 tend to be similar, El-Sayed said.
Both Covid-19 and the flu typically cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath, and vomiting or diarrhea, according to the CDC. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, it is possible to distinguish a Covid-19 infection as evidenced by the headache and the dry cough that often accompanies it. Loss of taste and smell, which is the biggest warning sign of a Covid-19 infection, is still a possible symptom, El-Sayed said, although it’s now less common than other variants, El-Sayed said. El-Sayed said.
“For people who are experiencing severe chest pain, especially as the dry cough is getting worse, that is when you should really seek medical attention,” he warns.
The most important factor to consider is exposure.
“If you start to feel any of these symptoms, you should ask: Has anyone I come in contact with has Covid? It is also worth isolating and doing a quick test,” he advises.
Even if you haven’t felt symptoms yet, it’s best to exercise caution if you’re around someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
“I really think it’s worth suspecting that it could be Covid considering that we have the Omicron variant that’s spreading like wildfire,” El-Sayed added.
When to test for Covid-19
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It’s usually fine to settle your doubts about Covid-19 by taking a test, although when you do it will make a difference.
El-Sayed says: If you are feeling symptoms of illness, now is the time to get tested.
For those who have been exposed but do not feel symptoms, it is likely that the virus has not developed enough to show up in a rapid test, he explained. In those cases, it’s best to wait five days after exposure before testing and continuing to monitor, according to the CDC.
“Just because you get a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not Covid,” El-Sayed said. “The best way is to test and then maybe test again in 12 to 24 hours, and if you get two negatives, you can be more certain that it’s not.”
Whether it’s Covid-19 or the common cold, it’s always a good idea to quarantine while you battle a viral illness, he said. It is becoming even more important with the increasing risk of contagion with Covid-19.
What to do if your child starts sniffling
When a family came to her emergency room with a child with a sniffle and sore throat and asked what it was, she was honest: She couldn’t know for sure without testing, Combs said.
Children with Omicron are like adults in that the symptoms are more extensive and often milder, like a cold, she says.
Getting your child vaccinated against the flu is important to reduce the risk of adding another virus to the mix, Combs says. Children under the age of 5 are still awaiting approval of a Covid-19 vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration, but older children can get the vaccine to reduce the risk of spreading and serious illness.
As children finish the school year, testing will be essential to protect against outbreaks, Combs said.
“If you want to be really careful, if you’re looking at a kid going back into a school setting to infect other people, I’d really say the only way to know is to take that test,” Combs said.
The good news is that we know how to manage infections when kids go back to school, says Combs. When it is not clear whether your child has been exposed or if their test is still pending, procedures such as masking, sanitation, physical distancing and reducing indoor gatherings are still expected to be effective. in reducing contagion, she added.
And know that advice can evolve over time, El-Sayed warns.
“It is changing rapidly. We are learning a lot more,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misrepresented the hospital where Dr. Sarah Ash Combs worked. That is the Central Children’s Hospital.
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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/22/do-you-have-a-cold-the-flu-or-covid-19-experts-explain-how-to-tell-the-difference/ Do you have a Cold, Flu or Swelling-19? Experts Explain How to Tell the Difference – CBS Baltimore