Note: The following item was provided by Atrium Health Floyd and was contributed by Tifani Kinard, Hospital Administrator at Polk Medical Center. – KtE

woman standing in front of a brick building that says floyd polk medical center
Tifani Kinard, Administrator, Floyd Polk Medical Center

What You Should do to Protect Yourself

Flu season is in full swing, add to that COVID-19 and the common cold and you have a perfect storm of runny noses, coughs and fevers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that cases of the flu are much higher than last year.

Add to that cases of COVID-19 and the common cold and you have a perfect storm of sick people who probably wonder at the outset just what is making them feel bad. In the early stages of all three viruses, it can be difficult to tell what exactly is making you sick.

The onset symptoms can be similar, and only a test can determine what virus you have contracted.

Is it COVID-19, the flu or just a cold?

Flu symptoms usually show up fairly quickly and often include the following:

⦁ Fever
⦁ Cough
⦁ Sore throat
⦁ Stuffy nose
⦁ Body aches
⦁ Fatigue
⦁ Headaches

The most common cold symptoms are:

⦁ Sneezing
⦁ Stuffy nose
⦁ Sore throat
⦁ Fever and chills are rare

Cold symptoms may also develop slowly, so sneezing may occur days before you get a sore throat.

COVID-19 symptoms can differ widely from person to person. The time between exposure and the onset of symptoms can be anywhere from a few days to two weeks.

The severity of symptoms can differ from person to person. You can also be asymptomatic, meaning you have contracted the virus but are not exhibiting any symptoms. They can include:

⦁ Fever or chills
⦁ Cough
⦁ Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
⦁ Fatigue
⦁ Muscle or body aches
⦁ Headache
⦁ New loss of taste or smell
⦁ Sore throat
⦁ Congestion or runny nose

The only way to know if you have COVID-19 or the flu is to get tested.

Use common sense to protect others

Whether you have the flu, a cold, or COVID-19 there are steps you should take to keep from preventing others. For the flu and cold, the steps are the same:

⦁ Limit contact with other people.
⦁ Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or sneeze into your elbow. If you use a tissue, throw it away after you use it.
⦁ Wash your hands frequently. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
⦁ Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you are sick.
⦁ Clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often.
⦁ If you have COVID-19, wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance.

Get vaccinated

Vaccines are effective weapons against COVID-19 and the flu. Contact your primary care physician if you have not been vaccinated. Even if vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective against either virus, there is evidence that vaccines can lessen the impact of the virus and allow you to feel better faster.

About Atrium Health Floyd

Since 1942, Floyd, now Atrium Health Floyd, has worked to provide affordable, accessible care in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Today, Atrium Health Floyd is a leading medical provider and economic force. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. At the hub of these services is Floyd Medical Center, a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center. Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,400 employees who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia; Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia, as well as Floyd Behavioral Health Center, a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility, also in Rome; and a primary care and urgent care network with locations throughout the service area of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.

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