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Your Healthy Family: Caring for mild COVID or flu symptoms at home and what to watch for

Posted at 9:45 AM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 17:50:48-05

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Cold and flu season will be confusing this year with COVID-19 and influenza circulating simultaneously.

If you’re unlucky enough to get one, or both viruses, Cleveland Clinic infectious disease specialist, Susan Rehm, MD, said many people can care for themselves at home.

“People with milder cases of influenza, or COVID, should pay attention to staying hydrated, monitor their temperature, monitor their breathing, get some rest and obviously isolate,” she said.

Flu and coronavirus have similar symptoms and are nearly impossible to tell apart without testing.

Dr. Rehm recommends calling your healthcare provider if you suspect either illness – because testing and treatment options differ.

While there aren’t any approved outpatient treatments for COVID-19, there are prescription antiviral medicines available to treat flu.

Regardless of the virus you’re fighting, it’s important to recognize signs of distress and when to seek immediate help.

“People should consider going to the emergency room, or calling their doctor, if they have severe shortness of breath, confusion, productive cough – meaning bringing up a lot of sputum with coughing – or any other symptom that’s causing them distress that they can’t take care of themselves at home,” Dr. Rehm said.

We don’t yet have a vaccine to fight COVID-19, but Dr. Rehm reminds us there is a vaccine to help prevent flu.

She says in the midst of a pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot.