Friday, October 23, 2020

2020 has been an unexpected year that has left many of us feeling unsure about the road ahead as we continue to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19.

Although we do not have a COVID-19 vaccine available yet, we can get vaccinated to protect against the flu — a potentially serious yet preventable illness. During the 2018 to 2019 flu season, complications from the flu led to about 490,000 hospitalizations and more than 34,000 deaths in the United States. These rates are nearly double in some years with higher flu activity.

It can take about 14 days from the time you get a flu vaccination to develop antibodies that protect you from the flu. By getting your flu vaccination early in the season (ideally before the end of October), your body can develop antibodies in time to protect you when the flu comes to town.

Although some people who get a flu vaccination still get sick, studies have shown that flu vaccinations can reduce the severity and duration of the illness. Getting vaccinated against the flu this year is essential to keeping your immune system as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wondering how to determine if you may have a cold, the flu, COVID-19 or another illness? Here is some helpful information on signs and symptoms from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Colds

Symptoms often develop gradually and stick around for a while. Common symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Cough (mild to moderate)
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • No fever or low-grade fever
  • Slight aches, fatigue and/or weakness (in certain cases)

Flu

Symptoms often develop abruptly, typically appearing about one to four days after becoming infected. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Vomiting (more common in children)
  • Diarrhea (more common in children)

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months or older receive a flu vaccination each year. It is especially important that pregnant women, young children, seniors over age 65 and people with chronic medical conditions get vaccinated. Studies have shown that vaccinating pregnant women helps protect the baby from the flu for several months after birth before the baby can be vaccinated.

COVID-19

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus (commonly about five days after being infected). Most of the symptoms are the same as flu, with a few additional symptoms in bold below. Here are some of the possible symptoms, which continue to change as more information is known about the virus:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell

Check out the CDC’s coronavirus self-checker.

When to seek emergency care

If you or someone you know experiences any of these warning signs, it is important to seek emergency medical care right away.

  • Bluish face or lips
  • Difficulty breathing
  • New feelings of confusion
  • Persistent pressure or pain in the chest
  • The inability to stay awake or wake up

Tips on how to stay healthy

Mark your calendar now to get your flu vaccination. Also, don’t forget to wear a face mask, wash or sanitize your hands often, cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, practice social distancing, exercise, keep your stress level down, make healthy food choices and get plenty of sleep to stay as healthy as possible this fall and beyond.

Norman Regional Health System remains committed to your health. Learn more about our telemedicine offerings and stay up-to-date on Norman Regional’s COVID-19 response efforts, which includes details on what to do if you think you may have COVID-19.