you feel bad is it flu COVID? That’s why it’s important – Orange County Register

when you feel Yes, really cruddy right now, join the crowd. Yes you could have COVID Again, it could be the flu — or just a really bad cold making the rounds.

Figuring out why you’re sick is a little more complicated this fall amid countless circulating viruses.

The flu season started early. And as we head into a third winter of the COVID pandemic, experts say the trend seen over the first two years is likely to continue: the weather is getting colder, holiday preparations are ramping up, and the COVID -Cases will increase. to.

In our ever-complicated switch effort to stay healthy, here are some answers to your latest questions.

Q We hear about “flu season” every winter. Is there also a “COVID season” now?

A Influenza transmission follows strong seasonal patterns — typically between November and April in the Bay Area — that were carefully tracked by public health experts long before the current pandemic. Now, COVID too could fall into a similar, albeit less predictable, seasonal pattern.

In the first winter of the pandemic, in January 2021, California recorded an unprecedented number of cases. The next year, in late 2021 and early 2022, we had the worst surge we’ve seen to date, due in large part to the increased portability of the Omicron variant.

“It was the perfect storm,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF professor of medicine who specializes in infectious diseases.

And this year could follow suit. “Right now, we’re in the right season,” Chin-Hong warns, “and we may have legged variants.”

Q How Concerned Should We Be About Another Winter COVID Surge?

A Chin-Hong said he is most concerned about a variant showing rapid growth in Europe, commonly referred to as BF.7. “It’s perhaps the most immune-invasive of all,” he said, but a large surge is far from certain and there are other worrying variants that could arise.

dr UCSF Medical School Chair Bob Wachter also expects an increase. “It will almost certainly go up this winter for one of the reasons the flu is increasing,” he said. “People are going in more and there’s more opportunity to spread out.” He points out that while we experienced our worst waves yet in winter, “relying on seasonality is harder than it is with the flu.”

Cases in the United States have yet to increase, but COVID testing is also at new lows, and the switch to weekly instead of daily reporting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many local and state health officials might give us less of a warning than previous winter floods.

But Wachter is optimistic the surge won’t break records. “It seems unlikely that it will be a large increase given the immunity of the population,” but he is also cautious about making any predictions at all. “As far as I can tell, it’s all pretty unpredictable at this point.”

Q Should I be worried about getting the flu this year?

A Put simply: yes! The flu is heading for an early surge, with flu test positivity rates quintupling in the country from mid-August to early October. New York is showing signs of an early and tough flu season, according to Chin-Hong. “It’s coming sooner,” he said, “and there’s already a lot more at this point than last year.”

Chin-Hong says that while the population appears to be getting stronger in response to COVID, two years of below-average flu activity means our population, particularly the very young and the very old, are even more vulnerable than they were before when very sick with flu in this year.

Q Isn’t COVID more dangerous than the flu?

A COVID killed more Americans in 2020 than the flu in the entire decade of flu season prior to that, and 2021 COVID deaths were even higher.

But this winter, for those in the know about COVID vaccinations, the flu could be a worse mistake to fight.

“At this point, COVID is no more severe than the flu,” Wachter said. “When people said that two years ago, it was a lie to minimize the impact of COVID.” But now? “As a reasonably healthy guy with five (COVID) shots, I have a better chance of dying from the flu.”

New vaccines, current variants that typically cause less severe disease, and new successful therapeutics have reduced the mortality rate from COVID over the past three years.

But even with a lower death rate, COVID will likely still have a higher death toll than the flu, especially if case numbers match those of previous years. Most of our immunity has been drained from previous Omicron flare-ups, and many people are not up to date with their vaccinations.

Q What should I do if I feel sick?

A If you’re feeling particularly exhausted, have a cough, or a tingling throat, the coincidence of COVID and flu season can complicate your road to recovery. “The symptoms are merging more and more,” said Chin-Hong. you feel bad is it flu COVID? That’s why it’s important – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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