Doctors explain similarities and differences between influenza and Covid-19

Doctors explain similarities and differences between influenza and Covid-19

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The flu season is starting in many parts of the world. At the same time the Covid pandemic has subsided if not completely ended around the world. Due to the overlapping nature of both the diseases there is a lot of confusion about which disease has afflicted a person. Doctors explain the similarities and differences between the two diseases and explain how one should figure out which disease has afflicted the individual.
Dr Laxman Jessani, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai explains that H3N2 and H3N1 are both types of influenza viruses, commonly known as the flu, while COVID-19 on the other hand is a viral respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dr Jessani further said that the symptoms of influenza, including H3N2 and H3N1, typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. In some cases, people with influenza may also experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, although these symptoms are more common in children than in adults.

On the other hand, symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, and running nose. In severe cases, COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and other serious complications.

Dr. Arunesh Kumar, Senior Consultant and Head of Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, Paras Hospital, Gurugram says that "We are seeing many patients these days, who complain of cough for last many days. The most important cause is pollution which triggers allergic reaction leading to protracted cough. Apart from this, some people who have had a viral infection earlier also have a cough, which we call post-viral bronchitis. The reason for this is that after a viral infecion leaves behind inflammatory reaction which causes patients to cough. Third reason: Some diseases like asthma, ILD, COPD, etc. also cause patients to cough".

He added that, "These days we are seeing with febrile cough symptoms. Influenza A is most important among viruses causing present surge. Transmission is via air droplets just like COVID 19. There is surge in patients coming with symptoms of fever and cough to the tune of 5–10 patients daily. Some patients who have severe symptoms need inpatient care.

But in several cases people have very few symptoms of either of the diseases. That largely depends on the level of the person’s immunity. Dr Jessani explains that it is important to know that in the case of both of these diseases, prevention measures work by following some very basic and simple measures like washing one’s hands regularly. Other precautions that one can take include ensuring that one does not go to overcrowded places and if one finds oneself in such a place then make sure that there is enough ventilation in that room. In case the ventilation is problematic then one should wear face masks and maintain appropriate physical distance from other people. Both diseases are easily preventable if people follow these simple measures.

Apart from this there are different influenza viruses out there and actually they change very often.

As far as the treatment of these diseases is concerned then antibiotics are not effective against either of them because they are viral infections and antibiotics are designed to target and kill bacteria, not viruses. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected or if there is a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, that develops as a result of a viral illness. However, it is important to use antibiotics judiciously and only when they are truly necessary to help prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dr. Arunesh Kumar, Senior Consultant and Head of Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, Paras Hospital, Gurugram

says that H1N1 and H3N2 are very common variants of the Influenza Virus. The patients that we are receiving currently are being managed on an out-patient basis, but some patients do require admission in case of severe symptoms. Patients who are elderly or having Co morbidities are at increased risk of getting severe disease.

However, most patients improve with anti-viral and antibiotics and other supportive treatment.

Since infuenza virus is an airborne disease, individuals must take precautionary steps to avoid getting affected by wearing masks and avoid highly populated areas. Individuals with prior history of respiratory illnesses or other Co morbidities should be more vigilant and take proactive measures.

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