How to self-assess Winter illnesses

The possibility of getting sick increases in the colder months. The cold weather leads people to spend more time inside, and thus get those around them sick. The 2018-2019 flu season left over 35 million people suffering from influenza and just over 34,000 deaths. With the second wave of COVID among us, keeping yourself and your loved ones safe is more important than ever this flu season. AFC Urgent Care Burlington has flu shots available for anyone over six months of age, especially those at high risk. Learn more about self-assessing your illnesses and how to prevent them from happening.

Common Cold Symptoms

The common cold can happen at any point in the year, not just winter. These are more annoying than anything, as they are not typically life-threatening. There is no cure for the common cold, but washing your hands and avoiding others who are sick are the best ways to avoid catching it. Symptoms of the common cold can include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body or muscle aches

Symptoms of a cold appear gradually and typically are not severe. Cases can experience all symptoms, or just one; there is no one specific type of cold. Colds can be contagious one or two days before symptoms begin and will likely stay contagious until symptoms are gone. Colds typically resolve themselves within one to two weeks.

Flu Symptoms

The flu can affect millions of people per year. Symptoms are worse than a cold and, in some uncommon cases, may require hospitalization. Symptoms can range from mild to more severe. The best way to avoid catching the flu is by getting an annual flu shot. While it is not 100% certain you will not still catch the flu, the symptoms will be significantly less with a vaccination. Symptoms of the flu can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Sore throat

Flu symptoms will appear one to three days after exposure. These symptoms will show up all at once and will be at their worst initially. The flu is the only virus that the symptoms do not show up gradually. Cases are contagious up to 7 days after experiencing symptoms.

COVID-19 Symptoms

COVID symptoms are very similar to the flu. They both may have a fever, cough, body aches, or a sore throat. The most significant difference between COVID and the flu is how the symptoms show up. Many COVID cases are asymptomatic, so getting tested is the only way to know you are positive. Rapid COVID tests will tell you if the virus is active in your body, and antibody tests can tell you if you have had it previously. If a case is experiencing symptoms, they can range from mild to severe and may require hospitalization. COVID can be spread even by asymptomatic patients. They can become contagious one to two days before experiencing symptoms and up to ten days following.

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