It’s impossible to tell without a test. Influenza and COVID-19 have such similar symptoms, you may need to get tested to know what's making you miserable.
Body aches, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches are symptoms shared by the two.
One difference? People with the flu typically feel sickest during the first week of illness. With COVID-19, people may feel the worst during the second or third week, and they may be sicker for a longer period.
Another difference: COVID-19 is more likely than the flu to cause a loss of taste or smell. But not everyone experiences that symptom, so it’s not a reliable way to tell the viruses apart.
That leaves testing, which will become more important as flu season ramps up this fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Doctors will need to know test results to determine the best treatment.
It’s also possible to be infected with both viruses at the same time, said Dr. Daniel Solomon, an infectious diseases expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Whether you get tested for one or both viruses may depend on how available tests are and which viruses are circulating where you live, he said.
“Right now we are not seeing community transmission of influenza, so widespread testing for the flu is not yet recommended,” Solomon said.
Both the flu and coronavirus spread through droplets from the nose and mouth. Both can spread before people know they are sick. The flu has a shorter incubation period — meaning after infection it can take one to four days to feel sick — compared to the coronavirus, which can take two to 14 days from infection to symptoms.
On average, COVID-19 is more contagious than flu. But many people with COVID-19 don’t spread the virus to anyone, while a few people spread it to many others. These “superspreader events” are more common with COVID-19 than flu, Solomon said.
Preventing the flu starts with an annual flu shot tailored to the strains of the flu virus that are circulating. Health officials would like to see record numbers of people get flu shots this year so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with two epidemics at once.
There’s no vaccine yet for COVID-19, although several candidates are in the final testing stages.
Precautions against COVID-19 — masks, social distancing, hand-washing — also slow the spread of the flu, so health officials hope continued vigilance could lessen the severity of this year's flu season.
The venom from one of the largest spiders in the world may bring the hope to ease the gut pain suffered by millions of people with the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a new research.
Australian researchers disclosed the findings on Monday, reports Xinhua.
IBS is an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach which affects the internal organs. The causes of IBS remain unknown.
The lead researcher, Professor Richard Lewis from the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience said current treatment targeting gut pain had some drawbacks.
"All pains are complex but gut pain is particularly challenging to treat and affects around 20 percent of the world's population," Lewis said.
"Current drugs are failing to produce effective pain relief in many patients before side effects limit the dose that can be administered."
There were hundreds of mini proteins known as peptides contained in spider's venom which has the capability of blocking the pain. However, not all of them were able to specifically block the chronic visceral pain caused by IBS, according to Lewis.
"Our goal was to find more specialized pain blockers that are potent and target pain sodium channels for chronic visceral pain, but not those that are active in the heart and other channels," he said.
Researchers screened venom from 28 spiders and identified two peptides from the venom of the Venezuelan Pinkfoot Goliath tarantula - which has a leg-span of up to 30 centimeters were most promising, with one nearly stopping chronic visceral pain in a model of IBS.
"The highly selective ones have potential as treatments for pain, while others are useful as new research tools to allow us to understand the underlying drivers of pain in different diseases," Lewis said.
Three broad categories of tests are commonly used to detect coronavirus.
Two among these diagnose whether you have an active infection and a third indicates if you previously had the virus, reports AP.
Here’s how they work:
Most tests look for bits of the virus’ genetic material, and require a nasal swab that is taken by a health professional and then sent to a lab.
This is considered the most accurate way to diagnose an infection, but it's not perfect.
The swab has to get a good enough sample so any virus can be detected.
These tests usually take hours at the lab and the results take at least a day, though a handful of rapid tests take about 15 minutes on site.
Other genetic tests use saliva, instead of a swab.
Bangladesh RT-PCR Test, a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test, to detect Covid-19.
A newer type of test looks for proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, rather than the virus itself.
These antigen tests are just hitting the market, and experts hope they'll help expand testing and speed up results.
Antigen tests aren't as accurate as genetic tests, but are cheaper, faster and require less specialised laboratory equipment. They still require a nasal swab by a health professional.
Rapid antigen tests perform best when the person is tested in the early stages of infection with SARS-CoV-2 when viral load is generally highest, CDC says.
Bangladesh on Monday announced allowing antigen tests to detect Covid-19.
Antibody tests look for proteins that the body makes to fight off infections in a patient's blood sample.
Antibodies are a sign that a person previously had Covid-19.
Scientists don’t yet know if antibodies protect people from another infection, or how long that protection might last. So antibody tests are mostly useful for researchers measuring what portion of the population was infected.
The demand for hand sanitiser skyrocketed with the spread of Covid-19. But with too many sanitisers to choose from, people are often confused what they should look for in a sanitiser.
It’s simple in fact: Pick one that contains mostly alcohol, and has a few other ingredients.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says hand sanitisers should be at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.
Other approved ingredients may include sterile distilled water, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, reports AP.
You should avoid anything with methanol or 1-propanol, both of which can be highly toxic. The FDA also warns people to watch out for hand sanitisers packaged in food and drink containers, since accidentally ingesting them could be dangerous.
Health officials also suggest avoiding hand sanitisers that replace alcohol with benzalkonium chloride, which is less effective at killing certain bacteria and viruses.
But experts also don’t encourage people to make their own sanitisers since the wrong mix of chemicals can be ineffective or cause skin burns.
“You should only use hand sanitiser when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water,” says Barun Mathema, an infectious disease researcher at Columbia University.
Hand washing is better at removing more germs, experts say.
Also read: Hand sanitiser vs soap and water
Doctors in central China's Hunan Province have used 3D printing technology to greatly reduce risks related to a complex skull reconstruction surgery for a 19-month-old child, reports Xinhua.
The patient nicknamed Doudou suffered from narrow cranial disease, also known as craniosynostosis, a birth defect where the bones in a baby's skull join together too early.
The disease results in visible deformation and various brain dysfunctions, and surgery is the only way to treat it, said Fu Xing, a neurosurgeon with Changsha Central Hospital, affiliated with the University of South China.
To reduce the risks of this complicated operation, doctors applied 3D printing technology.
Doudou underwent a high-precision CT scan so that doctors could create a 3D reconstruction of the child's skull and print a replica. The surgery team conducted a "simulated operation" on the skull model and finally determined a safe and effective surgical plan.
The surgery took place in early September and lasted around four hours, the hospital announced on Monday.
"The surgery was very successful. Doudou's brain development will not be hindered in the future," said Fan Tianyu, a member of the surgical team.