Confusing Symptoms: When Flu season, allergies and COVID-19 collide

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 11:14 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Doctors are not required to report flu cases but the Lubbock Health Department says many physicians are saying the flu is definitely showing up in Lubbock already.

So how can you tell the difference between the flu, COVID-19, and even allergies?

Dr. James Tarbox, an Allergist and Texas Tech Physician, says at least allergies are fairly easy to rule out. He explains, “So with allergies I would say it would be really rare to get a fever. With allergies it tends to involve more your eyes, your nose, your throat instead of the chills, the fevers, the body aches.”

But these are the possible symptoms shared by COVID and the flu: fever, headache, cough, body aches and fatigue.         

Dr. Tarbox says the best clue for COVID is that many lose their sense of smell and taste, even strong odors like coffee or onions and that is unique to coronavirus.        

But he adds, "The good news is most people who lose their sense of smell and taste tend to regain it fairly quickly.'          

With a growing number of COVID cases in our Lubbock hospitals now, 160 today, the concern is we can’t afford for our hospital teams to be overrun with patients when flu season collides with COVID.          

So Dr. Tarbox says that if you wake up feeling crummy like you’re coming down with something, it’s important to know why, and that could mean getting tested for both COVID and the flu.

He says, “becasue you want to make sure you know what you’re treating... because the treatment for influenza and covid are completely different.”

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