Covid-19 and the flu – how do they compare?

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February 04 2022 08:00 am

CORTLAND COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) – Last year’s flu season was the lowest on record due to Covid-19 protocols like masks and social distancing. Now, the flu season is in full swing like it was before the pandemic, but how does the disease compare to Covid-19?

According to Cortland County Chief Medical Officer Paula Brooks, symptoms given off by both Covid-19 and the flu are typically the same. Patients may likely experience fever, nasal congestion, diarrhea, a sore throat, and muscle aches. The difference between the two diseases is based on how severe the symptoms are.

“The big difference between flu and Covid is the severity of the illness, especially the respiratory complaints,” says Paula. “Flu doesn’t typically cause young, otherwise, healthy people to feel bad for a couple of days, but it doesn’t require hospitalization. Patients who are older certainly can have very severe symptoms from the flu.”

Unlike the flu, Covid-19’s symptoms can cause multisystem organ failure. This can likely reach the kidneys and the liver if severe enough. The time between exposure and development of symptoms is another key difference between the flu and Covid-19. For the flu, it takes 1 to 4 days for symptoms to show. For Covid-19, it can be as long as 10 days.

With many Covid-19 protocols lifted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is projecting this year’s flu season to be worse than in 2019. Cortland County, for example, is now experiencing flu rates at 120% of where the county was 2 years ago. To avoid complications from both the flu and Covid-19, Paula strongly recommends everyone who is eligible to get both the flu and Covid-19 vaccine.

“Get both vaccines at the same time,” says Paula. “With flu vaccinations and full Covid-19 vaccinations, hospitalizations will decrease by up to 70%.”

For more information on Covid-19 and the current flu season, head on over to the CDC’s website.

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