Flu has skyrocketed over 1,000% in the past month in North Texas, according to the latest surveillance report from Dallas County Health and Human Services. Rapidly rising cases of the highly contagious respiratory virus have prompted Medical City Las Colinas experts to offer tips about when to seek medical attention and how to know the difference between circulating viruses.
“Within the last month, we have seen a spike in flu cases within our emergency department,” says Nathan Ham, DO, medical director of emergency medicine at Medical City Las Colinas. “As the spread of respiratory illnesses continues to increase, it is important for individuals to be aware of the primary symptoms and speak with their doctor about getting vaccinated.”
While there are similarities between COVID-19, the flu and cold symptoms, the time it takes to begin showing symptoms after exposure varies. Flu infection typically takes one to four days while someone infected with COVID-19 may experience symptoms 2 to 14 days after being exposed.
The chart here shows how to tell the difference between symptoms of flu, COVID-19 and an ordinary cold virus.
People with symptoms consistent of COVID-19 can take an over-the-counter test or get tested by a medical professional. Prescription medications can help reduce symptoms and the length of illness for both COVID-19 and the flu.
Experts recommend people seek emergency care immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- Bluish lips or face
- Difficulty breathing
- High fever
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- New confusion or dizziness
- Persistent chest or stomach pain or pressure
Experts also remind people to stay home when sick, avoid close contact with anyone who is sick, wash hands frequently and cover coughs and sneezes. They also recommend getting vaccinated to protect and reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 and the flu.