Do I have the coronavirus, pneumonia, the flu, or just a cold? How to tell the difference.

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With the alarming spread of the coronavirus and not a treatment in sight, paralyzing fears of another deadly outbreak has come to life. The plethora of ailments out there, pneumonia, flu, common colds can be confusing since they all have similar symptoms. Often this causes panic for individuals suffering from any type of symptom, and those fears are even higher for parents, especially those with small children.

Coronavirus: There are 4 types of coronavirus, and they are reported to cause moderate levels of upper-respiratory tract ailments, similar to the common cold. Individuals can get infected and the symptoms last for a short period of time. Reported symptoms include sore throat, fever, coughing, headaches and a runny nose. This issue has reportedly been more commonly found in individuals with weakened immune systems, specifically with cardiopulmonary disease. Since we don’t know how the 2019-nCoV coronavirus spreads among individuals, anyone who has a symptoms is recommended to wear a mask in order to prevent a possible spread. Clinicians, Urgent Care and Emergency Departments have all started screening patients for any recent travel, particularly to parts of China such as Wuhan. Individuals who say they have are specially quarantined in order to prevent spread to anyone in the near vicinity.

If you have not been traveling or been in contact with someone who returned from travel outside the country you are probably in the clear.

Influenza and Pneumonia can now be lumped together. Both have common symptoms but recognizing subtle differences can help you distinguish between one or the other. For example, if you have a fever that has lasted longer than 48 hours and has gone above 102° you probably have pneumonia. Pneumonia occurs when you have inflammation of the lung that can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection.

Influenza is an infection that is caused by the influenza virus, commonly known as “the flu.” Coughing when you have the flu will typically elicit a dry cough, whereas coughing due to pneumonia will result in phlegm production. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea occur in both ailments with minimal variability.

Another distinguishing factor between the two is with sinuses. Individuals suffering from Pneumonia will have clear sinuses whereas sinus congestion is significantly elevated in influenza patients.

Nonetheless, they both are miserable and force you to take rest, eat light foods, and hydrate.

Lastly, the common cold, which can occur for people who have seasonal allergies, hyperactive reactions to dramatic changes in the weather, and just about anything in between. From a scientific standpoint, it is a viral infectious disease that primarily affects the nose. While it can also exhibit symptoms similar to the other ailments we’ve discussed, the common cold only lasts for about 3 days, compared to at least a week.

All in all, health is a blessing. Taking care of ourselves and being cautious is a must in this day and age. Overall, influenza has a higher lethality rate on an annual basis compared to any other viral infection. We can only hope this global outbreak of 2019 coronavirus ceases to spread and the dust settles on this issue. In the meantime, know the basics of the symptoms you may have, as it is a step in the right direction.

WORDS: Indira Purushothaman 

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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