Stephanie Holden

The seasons are changing. Not just summer to fall, but to influenza season. It is early September and many retail pharmacies are offering flu shots for the 2020-21 influenza season.

To think about influenza and covid happening at the same time is a lot to take in and can leave most of us feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little worried about getting sick.

The symptoms of influenza and covid-19 are similar. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, both have cough, fever, and body aches as primary symptoms. A person with influenza will also have fatigue and headache. A person who has covid-19 will likely experience more gastrointestinal symptoms and a loss of taste and smell.

Matt Trom, PA at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care said getting the flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu or will lessen the severity of symptoms if someone does contract the flu. He noted that there is no evidence showing that the earlier an individual gets a flu shot the better it is. Trom advises getting a flu shot when it is most convenient for the individual.

The best way to prevent getting either virus is covering your cough and sneezes, wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing, and proper handwashing.

Handwashing is more than just a quick rinse under the water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises to wash hands with clean running water (warm or cold), lathering hands with soap – including the backs of hands, in between fingers and under the nails for at least 20 seconds. After a good rinse, dry hands with a clean towel or air dry.

If you do become sick with influenza or covid symptoms, Trom said the best course of action is to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids, and take ibuprofen or Tylenol for pain or fever. If symptoms do not get better or if persistent cough or shortness of breath are an issue, Trom said to come into urgent care for treatment.

Stephanie Holden, M.A., CPXP, is the chief experience officer at River’s Edge Hospital.

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