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Nurse’s Corner

                  

Is It Covid-19, The Flu, A Cold, Allergies or Asthma? 

Video:  How well do masks work  

Although this is a very challenging and anxiety provoking time, we will all get through this together one day at a time. Let me remind you that you can contact the Sussex County Covid-19 Hotline Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm at 973-579-9488 to speak with a Sussex County Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) volunteer, or a Sussex County Division of Health (SCDOH) staff member any time you have any questions. I can also be reached at jaquino@newtonnj.org 

As the fall season approaches, fall allergies, the common cold, the flu, and fall related asthma all come into play. However, Covid-19, which we have already been dealing with for months now makes this fall particularly challenging. It is important to determine the differences between fall allergies, a cold, the flu, asthma, and Covid-19, as they all share certain symptoms. Covid-19 however, is more contagious and more dangerous. Although coughing and sore throat are symptoms noted in Covid-19, they are also noted in allergies (triggered by a reaction to pollen or grass), a cold, the flu and asthma (coughing).   

Although the flu mutates each year, this year’s flu is a cousin to last year’s flu and thus, we may have some natural immunity to it. We also have effective therapeutics and a flu vaccine. Unfortunately, Covid-19 is a new/novel virus and since we have not seen it before, we have no immunity to it nor do we have a vaccine. Thus why everyone should take precautions like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing. All of these sound practices will not only lessen your chances of contracting Covid-19, they will also lessen your chances of contracting the flu, a cold, and other viruses.  

Although viruses like Covid-19 can range in severity and affect people differently, below are the most typical symptoms for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), the flu, the common cold, allergies, and asthma.

 Symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19):

According to the CDC, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Coronavirus is spread through coughing, sneezing, and close personal contact. We recommend following the CDC guidelines and those of your local health department to prevent the spread of the virus.

The following symptoms of Covid-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

~Fever

~Cough

~Shortness of breath

Symptoms of The Flu:

High fever (around 102 or 103 degrees Fahrenheit)

Cough

Sore throat

Stuffy nose

Headache and/or body aches

Fatigue

Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

Symptoms of The Common Cold:

Sinus congestion

Stuffy nose

Post-nasal drip

Sore throat

Sneezing

Coughing

Moderate temperature (around 100 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

Symptoms Of Seasonal Allergies:

Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe and occur seasonally. They are caused by a response in the immune system and are not contagious. Medications can treat symptoms.

MOST COMMON:

~sneezing

~runny or stuffy nose

~watery and itchy eyes

~itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals

~ear congestion

~postnasal drainage

LEAST COMMON:

~headache

~shortness of breath

~wheezing

~coughing

SERIOUS ALLERGIC REACTION SYMTPOMS:

~skin rash/hives

~throat closing/difficulty breathing/chest tightness

~drop in blood pressure

~diarrhea

~Anaphylaxis: a medical emergency

Several differences between Covid-19 and Allergies (important clues):

*Covid-19 causes a system-wide response, such as a fever, body aches, chills, a sore throat, weakness, and respiratory symptoms. Allergies are more localized, causing symptoms centered around the nose, eyes, and throat, and usually no fever. 

*Allergies cause itchiness: itchy eyes, itchy nose and sneezing, and a tickle in the throat. Itchiness is usually not a symptom of Covid-19.

*Covid-19 doesn’t seem to cause much in the way of nasal symptoms. That means if your child is sneezing a lot, it’s more likely allergies, a cold, the flu, or another illness.

*Children with allergies may also have asthma, which can cause wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. While many people with COVID-19 also have a cough and chest tightness or difficulty breathing, most don’t have wheezing

Asthma Symptoms/Why Asthma occurs:

Asthma occurs when airways become blocked temporarily or narrowed by exposure to an allergen. Irritants, strenuous exercise, anxiety, or other triggers can precipitate this. If an asthma attack is severe, a person may need emergency medical treatment. Viral infections like the flu and milder coronaviruses can trigger asthma episodes, so it’s important to manage these conditions and do all you can to protect your family from COVID-19.

ASTHMA SYMPTOMS:

~sudden shortness of breath

~difficulty breathing

~chest tightness

~wheezing/coughing

HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WITH ASTHMA: 

~The most important thing you can do is make sure your child’s asthma is well controlled. None of the asthma medications, including inhaled corticosteroids and biologics, have been shown to increase the risk of getting COVID-19; none of them have been shown to interfere with COVID-19 treatments.

~If you think there’s a chance that your child has COVID-19, have your child take asthma medications with an inhaler instead of a nebulizer. Nebulization could increase the release of viral particles from an infected person into the air. If a nebulizer must be used, choose a location that minimizes exposure to members of your household who aren’t infected, like a porch or patio, or in a garage. Nebulizers are not to be used in school at this time. 

~To date, most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild. Symptoms include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Contact The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology if you have questions about the differences in symptoms of COVID-19, allergies, colds, and the flu. Coronavirus typically causes a fever while allergies do not. Allergies also bring itchiness, nasal congestion, and sneezing – symptoms that are less common in COVID-19.

~Contact your child’s allergist if you have any questions, if your child is having trouble breathing, or their asthma symptoms are becoming more severe. 

Though children of all ages can become sick with Covid-19, most who are infected typically don't become as sick as adults do. Some children who have an active infection of Covid-19 may not show any signs or symptoms at all. It must be pointed out however that Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) appears to be linked to Covid-19, yet it is rare, and most children who have it get better with medical care. We are still learning about this inflammatory syndrome. 

Signs & Symptoms include:

Fever that lasts 24 hours or longer

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Pain in the stomach

Skin rash

Red eyes

Redness or swelling of the lips and tongue

Feeling unusually tired

Redness or swelling of the hands or feet

Emergency warning signs of MIS-C include:

Inability to wake up or stay awake

Difficulty breathing

Chest pain or pressure that doesn't go away

New confusion

Bluish lips or face

Severe stomach pain

If your child shows any of the emergency warning signs listed above — or is severely sick with other signs and symptoms — get care immediately. Take your child to the nearest emergency department or call 911.

REMEMBER: prevention & recognition of Signs/Symptoms of cOVID-19, the flu, the common cold, allergies, asthma, and MIS-C are imperative!  

Please watch: COVID-19 Stop the Spread of Germs Video below:

https://youtu.be/eZw4Ga3jg3E

Please watch: Key Times to Wash Your Hands Video below: 

https://www.cdc.gov/wcms/video/low-res/coronavirus/2020/1533015330wash_hands.mp4

Sintomas del coronavirus: https://www.cdc.gov/video/socialmedia/20_318285-Sintomas-del-coronavirus.mp4

Continue to stay well, safe, and healthy!

Jill D. Aquino, RN, CSN, MSN 

School Nurse, Newton High School

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The following documents are for your use. 

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