INFOGRAPHIC: ‘DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COVID-19, THE FLU AND ALLERGIES (2020)

COMMENTARY:

The infographic by the allergy and asthma foundation aims to distinguish between Covid, Influenza and allergy. I would like to discuss more than symptoms. Covid and Influenza are both caused by invading infectious viruses.

Allergy is an over-response by the sensitized body to harmless proteins from the environment Covid and Influenza viruses cause direct damage to the lining membranes of the respiratory tract provoking a protective response by the body which produces inflammation in the nose and lung. Rhinitis, bronchitis and pneumonia result, depending on the site of the inflammation.

The symptoms of Allergy are far different from both Influenza and covid. ITCHING of the nose, eyes and skin is the hallmark of allergic Rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis and Hives, respectively. Influenza or Covid Infection of the nose, eyes and airways can produce sneezing, redness, coughing and difficulty breathing, but not usually itching.

Fever is characteristic of Influenza and Covid, but not of uncomplicated Allergy. Asthma can result from either infection or allergy, but is a separate beast, caused by release of different inflammatory cytokines.

The ASTHMATIC REACTION shows itself in the BLOCKAGE of breathing of air OUT of the lung, on EXHALATION. This blockage on exhalation in asthma is heard as wheezing, a musical sound. Just ask the wheezing person to take a deep breath IN, which should be easier, and then breathe out as fast as possible, which should be slower and more difficult. Fever is not a feature of uncomplicated Asthma. Influenza and Covid.

Both produce FEVER, fatigue, aching and usually coughing. Covid has the greater linkage with Coughing, which often progresses to Shortness of breath. Both Influenza and Covid can produce a sore throat and runny nose. LOSS OF SENSE OF SMELL is unique to Covid, although if your nose is stuffy, the sense of smell can be impaired. Influenza preys on the very young, which are generally spared from Covid.

If you are careful about social distancing and wear masks in public, and get sick, Covid is more likely, since COVID IS MORE CONTAGIOUS THAN INFLUENZA. Covid protections will probably result in fewer cases of Influenza this winter.

To summarize,both the “flu” and Covid 19 are infectious conditions, vastly different from allergy, which is a derailed body defense mechanism. Any of the three can result in an asthmatic reaction, though the fever of influenza often lessens the Asthmatic response to that condition.. Covid is much more contagious and severe than influenza and can cause more widespread organ damage. Be sure to practice MASK WEARING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING.

If you have asthma and it worsens, in my opinion, this favors covid. My asthmatic patients often got better with the fever of Influenza. If you have a CHILD that gets sick, it is more likely to be Influenza than Covid.

–Dr. C

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