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Does it still make sense to quarantine if you are experiencing COVID or flu symptoms?

As the seasons transition and temperatures continue to drop, health experts anticipate an increase in COVID-19 and influenza cases in the following months, as more activities shift indoors.

While notable increases in COVID-19 and influenza cases have yet to be noticed, many are questioning what they should do if they get symptoms, especially since they do not know what ailment they may be suffering from.

According to Allison Arwady, the main physician in Chicago, both influenza and COVID-19 have many active strains, resulting in possibly unique symptoms for each occurrence of the viruses.

In accordance with the most recent CDC recommendations, individuals should isolate themselves if they return a positive test result or if symptoms are noticed but a test result has not yet been received. With a negative test result, isolation can be lifted.

If a positive test result is obtained, the CDC recommends staying at home for at least five days and, if possible, avoiding other people. Also recommended is increasing ventilation within the home, particularly if living with others.

After a 24-hour interval without a fever in symptomatic COVID-19 individuals, isolation can be lifted. Coughs and loss of taste and smell may persist weeks or months after the virus has passed, but the conclusion of isolation need not be postponed if these symptoms persist.

Due to the similarity between COVID and influenza symptoms, Arwady stated that there is only one way to determine with certainty which virus you may have contracted.

“Those infected with influenza typically experience fevers, bodily pains, a feeling of having been struck by a truck, and can feel quite ill. Nonetheless, COVID can also cause these symptoms. Consequently, the only way to know for certain is to have a test “Arwady added.

While Chicago health officials are not currently observing an increase in flu cases, they are collecting data on the virus’s transmission for surveillance reports.

Arwady also suggested using the city’s database to acquire the most recent flu-related information and resources.

Regarding COVID-19, the most recent BA.5 variant continues to be the leading cause of cases in the United States. New omicron-specific booster doses have recently become widely accessible, and health officials are promoting universal immunization in front of an anticipated increase in cases this fall and winter.

While upper respiratory symptoms are now the most distinctive indicator of the virus, as the virus has evolved, certain alterations in symptoms have been identified.

Dr. Isaac Ghinai, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health who handles COVID-19 testing and laboratory surveillance, stated earlier this month, “We observe a lot of things happening with the virus as it evolves.” Omicron and its sub-lineages are an example of a virus that has changed somewhat, and there is evidence that different lineages of the virus can cause slightly different symptoms.

Nearly one year into the pandemic, Ghinai stated that the advent of vaccines and their subsequent broad use may also influence disparities in symptoms.

“There are evidence, for instance, that the loss of taste and smell is less prevalent in omicron than in certain earlier lineages. All of this is presumably also affected by the fact that many more individuals are vaccinated than in the past “Ghinai stated.

Getting vaccinated and boosted, according to Ghinai, can considerably alleviate the symptoms of the virus if you are sick, regardless of how the symptoms evolve.

“Certainly, the severity of symptoms is lot less if you’re vaccinated, and the severity of symptoms is much less if you’re revaccinated, so it can modify how it appears,” Ghinai said.

What are the symptoms that often persist the longest? coughing.

At a news conference earlier this month, Allison Arwady, the leading physician in Chicago, stated, “That’s nearly always what will survive the longest.” “Coughing is typically the most persistent impact. This is the case anytime a person has a viral illness. Even if you are feeling completely healed, you will still experience irritation.”

Early signs of COVID include fatigue, headache, sore throat, and fever, per Johns Hopkins Medicine.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, fever, cough, and muscle soreness may appear first. Then, infected individuals may have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In contrast to other respiratory infections such as MERS and SARS, researchers discovered that COVID patients are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting before diarrhea.

In certain cases, digestive symptoms may be the initial indication of COVID infection. According to an article from Emerson Health, they have been reported to appear during the onset of an illness, with respiratory symptoms perhaps following a day later.

As the virus continues to change, certain symptoms, such as shortness of breath, have become less prominent. Dr. Sharon Welbel, the head of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control for Cook County Health, stated earlier this month that fevers and coughs have become increasingly prevalent over the past few months.

“In terms of symptoms and what people experience, the diversity has been astounding,” said Welbel. “I find that with omicron, the most prevalent symptoms are still fever and cough, and not so much shortness of breath.”

Experts do warn patients that the degree or even the sort of early symptoms might vary significantly across individuals. “I believe it varies greatly from person to person,” Welbel added. “It varies on age, it depends on comorbid illness, it depends on vaccination status, and if a person has been infected previously, their immune system may be more activated… Therefore, I believe there is no way to preserve it or forecast it.”

According to the CDC, the median period for the onset of symptoms in patients with diverse omicron lineages is three days.

According to the CDC, symptoms normally occur between 2 and 14 days following contact to the virus. However, how long they endure depends on the individual, the severity of their infection, and whether or not they develop protracted COVID.

“Some people report feeling better after a day, while others have persistent symptoms after three weeks,” added Welbel.

Among the symptoms of the virus are:

-Fever or shivering

-Cough

-Painful shortness of breath

-Fatigue

-Muscle or body discomfort

-Headache

-New impairment of taste or scent

-Choking throat

-Congestion or nasal discharge

-Nauséas ou vomissement

-Diarrhea

Patients are recommended to seek emergency medical care if they encounter the following symptoms:

-Difficulty breathing

-Persistent chest discomfort or pressure

-New ambiguity

-Inability to wake or stay awake

-Skin, lips, and nail beds that are pale, gray, or blue

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