UAE: Flu or Covid-19? Look out for symptoms and get checked, say doctors
Vaccinations are important to stay protected against both.
With the flu season setting in, doctors have urged residents to take extra precautions and consult specialists as soon as symptoms emerge. They also noted that the symptoms of Covid and flu are ‘very similar’, so medical advice should be sought immediately.
“Anyone who has symptoms of flu...should isolate themselves and get a Covid test done to get a correct diagnosis. If the Covid test is negative, then they should get themselves tested for influenza,” Dr Farida Al Hosani, executive director of the infection diseases sector at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, said earlier during the launch of the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s seasonal influenza awareness drive.
UAE doctors also called on residents to keep calm when they start feeling unwell.
“Covid-19 presents with similar symptoms like seasonal flu. However, Covid symptoms are far more severe and can present with sudden loss of smell and taste,” said Dr Prashant Sharma, ENT surgeon at Prime Hospital.
Around this time of the year, as the weather shifts from summer to winter, more people become prone to flu. The cold temperature may cause dryness and dehydrate one’s mucus membrane that protects against infection. Vitamin D production also changes with the season and can affect immunity, Dr Sharma said.
Dr Tooba Farooq, general physician at Medze Clinic in Deira, said flu symptoms may last for four to seven days and range from a simple cold to runny nose, fever, cough, muscle ache, headache and sore throat in the first three days.
“From the day four, symptoms like dry and sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort are noticeable,” she added.
Flu and Covid-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses. To stay protected against both, vaccines are highly recommended — though a gap of at least three weeks must be kept between a Covid jab and a flu shot.
Dr Farooq said there are a number of flu vaccines available. “The most commonly used flu shots are nasal spray vaccines; the quadrivalent one; a vaccine administered through jet injectors; high-dose flu vaccine; and cell-based flu vaccine.”
Getting the jab is important as flu could lead to complications. “It can lead to severe illness in the form of pneumonia, which is usually seen in the elderly population and people with lower immunity due to chronic medical conditions,” Dr Sharma said.
Healthcare specialists have also urged the public to drink plenty of fluids; eat nutritious food; and take vitamin C and D supplements, if necessary, to boost one’s immunity. “Personal preventive measures, like regular hand-washing, are also necessary. Early self-isolation is necessary if one is feeling unwell.”
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