COVINGTON, Ga. – Ever since the pandemic, every cough, sniffle, sneeze or body ache could be more than just the common cold, and not knowing what you have can start driving anyone crazy. Because colds, influenza, and COVID-19 share some symptoms, Piedmont urges everyone to stay safe, and keep others safe, while your physician works to determine your diagnosis. Not only is it dangerous to expose others, especially those who are immunocompromised, to any kind of virus, but being infected yourself lowers the strength of your immune system, and increases your risk of susceptibility to ailments you would normally be protected from.

“Germs are germs, and while the flu and COVID-19 are obviously more dangerous than the common cold, it’s important for everyone to follow the procedures put in place to keep everyone safe,” says Darryel Alexander Wilson, M.D., with Piedmont Physicians at Brown Ridge in Covington. “This includes wearing masks inside the doctor’s office if you’re displaying symptoms.”

It’s also important to note that telemedicine and virtual visits are additional options for patients. Piedmont has been offering telemedicine in many of its physician practices for several years, but they have been used more frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual visits can also provide additional safety for all patients, including high-risk individuals from potentially being exposed to COVID-I9. Now that cold and flu season has begun, virtual visits can keep sick patients safe at home unless a screening for flu or COVID-19 is deemed necessary.

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses that have very similar symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms seen with both flu and COVID-19 are fever, sore throat and cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, a runny nose, headache and body aches or muscle soreness. Some people can also experience gastrointestinal symptoms.

“If you are sick with a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, your best form of treatment includes staying home and taking care of yourself, as well as staying in touch with your doctor,” adds Dr. Wilson. “Meeting with a physician in a virtual visit will keep you safe and comfortable, while also protecting others.”

Piedmont offers virtual visits with primary care physicians, urgent care locations, and specialty practices. Most visits are conducted over video, and all you need to get started is a video-enabled computer, tablet or smartphone. Piedmont’s virtual visits are also HIPAA-compliant, so you can be confident that your information is kept safely. In addition, Piedmont offers On-Demand Virtual Visits that allow patients to be seen same-day through the Piedmont MyChart portal. That way, if a patient starts experiencing symptoms and wants to know what they’re dealing with right away, they can see a provider virtually with no appointment needed.

For more on telemedicine at Piedmont, visit piedmont.org/virtualvisits.

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