2021/2022 Fall and Winter Influenza Update

By Dr. J.E. Williams |

2021/202 Fall and winter Influenza update

According to international influenza tracking sites, like FluNet and FluView, this year’s flu season infection rate is starting slow. 

Check your state’s health department website for local outbreaks. For example, in Florida, it’s FLU REVIEW.

Florida Flu review chart

However, that could change. Typically, January through March are peak influenza season, so keep up your guard in the months ahead. 

Can You Tell the Difference by Symptoms? 

Symptoms of a cold, the flu, and COVID-19 start similarly with a cough, sore or scratchy throat, congestion, and fatigue.

ColdFluRSVCOVID-19
Main Symptoms
Runny noseYesPossibleYesYes
Fever or chillsRareYesYesHigh
FatigueSometimesYesYesYes
Sore throatYesPossibleYesPossible
CoughYesYesYesYes
Blue toesNoNoNoPossible
Body achesSlightYesPossibleYes
HeadacheRareYesYesYes
Loss of taste and smellUnlikelyUnlikelyUnlikelyYes
Main symptoms for Cold, Flu, RSV and COVID-19

But symptoms alone aren’t enough to tell the difference between these infections.

1
Note and evaluate your symtopms
2
Get rapid swab test if possible COVID-19 exposure
3
If negative, treat as cold or flu
4
If unsure, get a multitarget test panel

When In Doubt, Get Tested

The proactive approach is to get tested for SARS-CoV-2 at the first sign of symptoms that don’t improve within a few days. Drive-through free testing is still available. 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is another common viral infection with symptoms like the flu. It can become a dangerous infection in infants and older adults. 

Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp offer a panel that simultaneously tests for SARS-CoV-2, Influenza A and B, and RSV for comprehensive testing. 

Should You Still Mask Up?

Masking and social distancing and hand washing, and wiping down surfaces reduce the spread of respiratory viral infections like influenza and coronaviruses. 

Mask wearing tips: 

  1. Cloth masks are not that protective. Wear a surgical mask underneath if you like the look and feel of cloth masks but want better protection. 
  2. Surgical masks are loose-fitting disposable face coverings designed to prevent contamination from liquids like blood sprays or splashes. They do not filter small particles like viruses. 
  3. N95 best with the highest standard for filtering small particles like viruses – made in the U.S.
  4. KN95 is good but not considered the same quality as N95s – made in China (CDC authorized as a suitable alternative).
  5. KF94 are made in South Korea and have slightly lower filtration efficiency.

Treatment

  • First, if you test positive for COVID-19, self-quarantine.
  • Then, start self-treatments including rest and fluids.
  • Take supplements like vitamin C, zinc, selenium, and herbal antivirals like Echinacea
  • If you’re sure you have COVID-19, follow these recommendations
  • Consider monoclonoa antibody treatments: Regeneron

Learn more about COVID vs Flu vs Cold vs RSV

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