Cough. Sneeze. Shiver. Maybe it’s the flu, isn’t it? Or maybe not! Seasonal flu is a common type of viral infection that can be fatal, especially in high-risk groups such as young children, elderly adults, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. Typically, the throat, nose, and lungs are affected by a flu. This respiratory ailment can be caused by different groups of viruses. In Covid-19 times, the symptoms of the flu can often be mistaken for Covid. Come, let us to explore some conditions with flu-like symptoms.
The flu can cause symptoms like fever, sore throat, chills, chills, muscular pains, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and exhaustion. Even vomiting and diarrhea may be experienced by some people. It’s important to remember that not all flu patients will experience a fever.
Health Shots spoke to Dr Charu Dutta Arora, consultant physician and Infectious Disease Specialist at Amerihome Healthcare and Asian Hospital, to find out about the conditions which may seem like flu but are not flu.
“With winter almost knocking on our doors, post-festivities exertion and the hazardous levels of toxins in the air, there is a rise in the number of cases with cough, sore throat, body pain and weakness. These resemble the ‘flu’. But there are other illnesses that resemble this serious viral infection and needs comparative understanding for better treatment,” says Dr Arora. So, let’s take a look at those conditions:
The SARS COV-2 virus and its ever-evolving variants continue to haunt us since 2019. The infection presents with similar symptoms like the flu, but it has associated high grade fever, headache, loss of taste and smell and runny nose. One must isolate themselves till tested negative for Covid-19 and treat accordingly.
Also read: Covid-19 and influenza: Beat the ‘twindemic’ threat with vaccination, says expert
Also a viral illness, the cases of common cold quadruple during the winter months. The common cold also presents with striking similarities as the viral influenza. The most differentiating factor is the time period in which symptoms present. Flu generally presents in 1-3 days while common cold can continue for several days to one week.
Almost similar to the flu, this streptococcal infection of the throat and tonsils can have swollen lymph nodes, red spots inside the mouth and high grade fever. It almost never presents with a stuffy nose (which is a common feature in the flu).
A grave bacterial/viral/fungal infection, pneumonia (or the consolidation of the lung) is a common complication of the flu. A long-standing fever, continuous cough and chest pain are classical features of the pneumonic infection. The patient must be admitted if diagnosed with pneumonia and has shortness of breath or desaturation of blood oxygen levels.
Also read: How to differentiate Covid, swine flu and seasonal flu?
Inflammation of the airways or bronchus has striking similarities as influenza or flu, such as nagging/productive cough, nasal congestion and throat pain. However, bronchitis can be due to allergies or pollutants. Also, cough in case of bronchitis can extend for weeks and may need inhalational steroids as treatment.
Infectious mononucleosis, also known as kissings disease, is caused by Epstein Barr Virus. It is caused by sharing saliva, kissing, sharing utensils or through intimacy. A young male with symptoms of flu along with swollen lymph nodes, rash, high grade of fatigue and swollen spleen is a classical presentation of this infection.
A deadly inflammation of the meninges (layers which surround the brain and spinal cord) caused by virus or bacteria has symptoms that begin as flu but are associated with stiff neck, excruciating headache, high grade fever, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound and confusion. This is a serious illness with high morbidity and mortality.
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