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Can You Get COVID-19 and the Flu at the Same Time?

caring for sick parent with flu

Can you imagine catching the flu and COVID-19—the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus—at the same time? It may seem like a ridiculous notion, but it’s a question worth asking during these unique circumstances. And as it turns out, having both of these illnesses simultaneously is entirely possible. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that people can acquire multiple infectious respiratory diseases at once, including COVID-19 and seasonal influenza (flu). Researchers still aren’t sure how common co-infections are, but they’re certainly possible and more likely to occur as flu season approaches. This is because COVID-19 and the flu are caused by different viruses that are easily spread from person to person. COVID-19 is brought on by the virus known as SARS-CoV-2, and the flu can be traced to two seasonal influenza viruses (A and B). All of these viruses are transmitted through respiratory droplets that can be produced while speaking, sneezing, and coughing. 

Flu Symptoms vs. COVID-19 Symptoms 

While the flu and COVID-19 result from distinctly different viruses, their symptoms are strikingly similar. Here are some of the most common symptoms they share: 

So, how do the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu differ? It’s difficult to say, especially since COVID-19 is a new disease that researchers are learning more about every day. At this point, losing your sense of taste or smell is considered to be an indicator of COVID-19—not the flu—although the flu may occur alongside a COVID-19 infection, as we’ve discussed.  

Another possible differentiator between the flu and COVID-19 is the severity of symptoms. Many cases of COVID-19 cause very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, while the flu is consistently more disruptive. 

What to Do if You’re Sick 

Few scenarios sound more unpleasant than battling a double infection of COVID-19 and the flu. Even so, it’s important not to panic if you suspect you have both of these conditions. Your first step is to speak with a medical professional over the phone or via a telehealth visit. This professional may recommend a clinical lab test, which is the only way to know for certain what illness (or illnesses) is behind your symptoms. Testing—which may involve a throat or nasopharyngeal swab—is widely available in most areas for both COVID-19 and influenza types A and B, and many are performed in drive-up settings that allow for social distancing. 

In the meantime, it’s important to stay at home as much as possible and remain at least 6 feet away from others. Rest and hydration are critical to beating any virus, so be sure to prioritize sleep and avoid any stressful or strenuous activities. In the event that you develop difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, or bluish skin, call 911 immediately and inform the operator that you may have a COVID-19 infection. 

DispatchHealth Can Help

It’s true that some healthcare providers are now offering drive-up testing, but wouldn’t it be nice to receive the care you need in the comfort of your own home? We thought so, too. That’s why DispatchHealth offers in-home COVID-19 and flu testing, as well as expert treatment for these conditions, at prices that are comparable to urgent care costs. Why trudge to your car when the advanced care you need can be delivered directly to your doorstep? 

DispatchHealth specializes in providing safe and convenient mobile medical services to patients of all ages. We can treat nearly everything an emergency room can and adhere to the most rigorous of sanitation and infection control protocols to ensure the safety of our patients and team members. Each of our qualified medical teams includes a nurse practitioner or physician assistant and an EMT, along with an ER physician that is available by phone or video. 

Find the answers you need to your health questions. To request care from DispatchHealth, give us a call, use our app, or go on our website. Our team is available 24/7/365 to assist you and can be at your doorstep in a matter of hours.  

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm
  2. https://www.goodrx.com/blog/can-i-have-both-flu-and-coronavirus-at-the-same-time/  
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm 
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm#:~:text=What%20is%20the%20difference%20between,by%20infection%20with%20influenza%20viruses

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