Under the current pandemic times, it is common to make a mistake influenza for COVID-19. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Are you suffering from a cold or flu? If yes, what do you need to do?

The obvious answer is to talk to your doctor who will evaluate your symptoms and advise you accordingly. Given that the possibility of COVID-19 is ruled out, there are some basics to keep in mind if you are diagnosed with a cold or flu.

Dr Salvin George

“A cold may drag your energy down, while the flu won’t let you get out of bed,” said Dr Salvin George, specialist — Internal Medicine, Medcare Hospital, Dubai. “Chest congestion, sore throat and sneezing are common cold symptoms. There could be coughing too (though less common), headache and chest discomfort. With the flu, you are likely to run a high fever for several days and have body ache, fatigue and weakness. Symptoms of the flu also tend to come on abruptly. Usually, complications from colds are relatively minor, but a case of flu can sometimes even lead to a life-threatening illness such as pneumonia,” explained Dr George.

He said under the current pandemic times, it is common to make a mistake influenza for COVID-19. “Both cause respiratory illnesses — from asymptomatic to mild to a severe condition. Both are transmitted by contact, droplets and fomites,” he said, and added that a doctor is best qualified to tell the difference by following the treatment protocols and necessary tests in place.

In general though, flu has a shorter mean incubation period with the serial interval or the time taken for the virus to be transmitted from one person to another is three days. “Predominant Influenza viruses are Influenza A and Influenza B. They cause the classic symptoms of fever, cold, sore throat and cough. It may be preceded by body ache and headache.”

Tips to treat to flu
* Stay at home and get plenty of rest
* Isolate yourself
* Stay well-hydrated
* Eat right
* Be in touch with a doctor
* Ensure aches and fever are treated
* Take steam
* Do some breathing exercises
* Take medication as advised by the doctor
* Go in for tests as advised by the doctor

Influenza is usually self-limited and occasionally requires treatment with anti-viral medication, he added.

Dr Jyoti Upadhyay

Dr Jyoti Upadhyay, specialist — Internal Medicine, Aster Hospital, said doctors are able to arrive at a conclusion based on evidence and the speed of transmission. “Influenza has a shorter median incubation period (time from contracting the infection to appearance of symptoms) and a shorter serial interval (time between successive cases),” she noted.

Dr Vrishali Rohankar

Dr Vrishali Rohankar, general practitioner and medical director, Aster Clinic, said: “Normally, in flu cases, there are typical symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body ache, headache, fatigue and shortness of breath and chest congestion.”

Doctors said people should not panic if they have a cold or cough or even a sore throat, but at the same time consult doctors to get the right advice.

Dr Rohankar said, “As a precautionary measure, isolate yourself from your family and friends till you recover. This will help in preventing spread of any infection.”

According to Dr George, in case of symptoms involving the upper-respiratory tract, people should take good rest and be in touch with the doctor who can keep track of the progress of the symptoms and recommend a COVID-19 test if necessary.