Learn how to differentiate respiratory symptoms this fall

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As flu season approaches, it can be difficult to differentiate flu or coronavirus symptoms from seasonal allergies. A local nurse practitioner shares tips on detecting different symptoms and how you can stay healthy. 

Understanding Seasonal Fall Symptoms

Is it allergies, a cold, the flu or Covid-19? When you wake up with a sore throat it can be hard to tell the difference. 

Nurses say there is one symptom in particular to look for. 

“The differentiator is fever, oftentimes,” said nurse practitioner Meredith Ashley. 

Ashley said that the flu has a sudden onset of fever and body aches. With a cold, symptoms usually develop gradually. Covid-19 can mimic the symptoms of both a cold and the flu, but is normally accompanied by a loss of taste and smell. 

“If your symptoms are lasting, you know, more than five to seven days, then it’s a good time to come in and be evaluated,” Ashley said. 

For those who don’t experience the symptoms associated with a cold, the flu or Covid-19, Ashley says that it could be allergy related. She said that the most common allergens for the fall season are ragweed and mold. 

Tips to Avoid Fall Allergy Symptoms: 

  • Plan outside activities in the afternoon
  • Stay away from plants with pollen
  • Consider wearing a mask outside to limit pollen exposure 

“For the majority of people it’s (allergies) a minor illness and it just needs over-the-counter medications, and sometimes requires prescription medication,” Ashley said. 

Tests are available to make a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Flu Vaccines During the Pandemic

As December is near, the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County is urging residents to receive the flu vaccine.

To keep the number of flu cases down, the county hopes to vaccinate 70% of its K-12 students.

With this strategy, they’re hoping this will lower the amount of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in Alachua County.

The vaccine is now available at the Alachua County Health Department and in school clinics.

Medical Assistant Steven Sheppard says a lot of people wrongly believe that they do not need to receive the flu vaccine since they have the COVID-19 vaccine. 

About Gabriella Mercurio

Gabriella is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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