Many people are currently sick in the US with a fever, cough and sore throat.
The flu and cold season has arrived early – and it has taken people by surprise.
If you have a fever, a test for flu and COVID can help you access antiviral treatments.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to have a respiratory condition.
“The cold weather, the gathering indoors, that’s all good for respiratory viruses and bad for the symptoms,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday at a media briefing, highlighting that early several respiratory illnesses in the morning. holidays, challenging overburdened hospitals across the country.
Flu cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed since Thanksgiving, but some people are complaining that they test negative for flu, RSV, COVID, while still extremely sick.
Writer Cora Harrington said on Twitter that she contracted a “weird as hell virus” that left her “virtually unconscious for a few days”, calling it “one of the strangest illnesses I’ve ever had”.
General practitioner Stephanie de Giorgio van the UK similarly said there was some sort of “non-flu, non-covid, non-RSV thing” going around her workplace, and “felt damn awful,” causing a fever and sore throat.
Doctors of at least three continents say that many different viruses – not just flu and COVID – have a real “side” this year. People should also not ignore the idea that a COVID, RSV or flu test done at an early stage may not necessarily be positive. Here’s what to consider if you’re feeling feverish right now.
The winter disease season has started early
To give you an idea of how many sick people there are in the U.S., here’s what the CDC’s weekly “influenza-like illness” chart — which tracks how many people show up at the doctor’s office with a fever and cough or sore throat — looked like on Thanksgiving week in 2021:
This is Thanksgiving Week 2022:
This scorching hot level of “influenza-like illness” is a barometer based on the patient’s symptoms (not viral tests), so it likely includes many cases of the flu, COVID, and various other respiratory illnesses that affect the door of the doctor appear.
Are you trying to determine whether you have the flu or COVID based on your symptoms? Good luck.
“Fever, muscle aches, cough, headache, those are going to be common,” Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of infectious diseases at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, told Insider. “You really can’t tell the difference between the flu and COVID.”
This year’s spike in respiratory illness has also arrived earlier than usual, and Gulick says it “has taken people by surprise” who haven’t gotten their flu shot or COVID booster. But it’s not too late to roll up your sleeves if you haven’t already.
“There is still time to get vaccinated,” Walensky said.
Flu season typically peaks somewhere between December and February in the US, but the disease can circulate well into May, or even later into spring and summer, like last season.
If you have a fever, you can get tested for flu and COVID to access treatment
If you have a fever and sore throat or a cough, experts like Gulick suggest getting tested for two respiratory viruses: the flu and COVID. If you test positive for either, antiviral drugs can help you recover from your infection more quickly and safely, especially if you are elderly or in a high-risk group.
If you test negative for COVID and the flu, you may need to wait a few days and test again. But you could also have something else, like “the older coronaviruses, a virus called adenovirus, and of course just the common cold,” Gulick said. All of these can also cause an upper respiratory infection. Other diseases now circulating are metapneumovirus and parainfluenza.
“Most people probably don’t need to know what they have,” Gulick said. “They just go through the disease and then get better with supportive care.” Antibiotics don’t help with viral illnesses, so adequate bed rest, fluids, and Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever and pain is the tried and true method of home care.
While no treatment or vaccine is yet available for viral illnesses like RSV, both flu and COVID are “diseases that people can do something about,” Gulick said, by getting vaccinated, boosted and taking antiviral drugs like Paxlovid for COVID and Tamiflu for flu when warranted.
“We’ve always known that cold and flu season is more than just the flu,” Walensky said. For flu and COVID, “we want to make sure people know there are prevention and treatment interventions.”
Last week, nearly one in 10 deaths nationwide were due to the flu, COVID or pneumonia. Tragically, experts say, many of those deaths were preventable.
Read the original article on Insider