SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — As allergy season comes to an end, flu season is approaching. Doctors have already seen positive flu cases within the last couple of weeks.
“We have had a couple of positive flu cases in our office,” Dr. David Barbe, Mercy Mountain Grove Family Physician and Department Chair of Primary Care of Springfield, said. “We’re just beginning to see what I think will be the tip of the iceberg of what will be a much larger flu season over the next couple of months.”
A cold, the flu, and COVID have very similar symptoms – like a cough, body aches, and a runny nose. If you come in with any of those symptoms, you’re most likely going to have to get a test.
“It will be important to determine whether it is just a common cold or the flu and when it is COVID,” Barbe said. “The only way to tell is by doing some testing. Many locations will be testing for the flu and for COVID at the same time. Just as we offer drive up testing for COVID at many locations across southwest Missouri we will see the same thing again.”
This is only one test that swabs for both COVID and the flu.
“So far this year, most of the cases of virus respiratory illnesses have been relatively mild,” Barbe said. “But they always have the same sort of symptoms. They always have body aches, or fever, cough and head congestion are most common. Hands down most of those are cold rather than influenza.”
It’s important to call your physician to determine whether or not you need a test and when to get one.
“When you’re exposed, it generally will take anywhere from 3 to10 days to show symptoms,” Barbe said. “Generally speaking if you’re exposed to someone with a viral illness and you don’t see symptoms in 10 days you’re likely to not come down with that particular exposure.”
Often times patients can be treated virtually when it comes to the cold or the flu. Barbe expects to see an increase in virtual visits so clinics don’t get exposed. He said the best way to protect yourself is to get your flu shot.
“It’s very important for people to get their flu shots,” Barbe said. “It’s also important to be careful if you’re sick. If you’re ill stay home. Even if it’s not COVID, nobody wants what you got. Stay home, where a mask if you must go out. If you’re an individual with health conditions that put you at risk for more severe flu or covid, it always makes sense for you to mask.”
There are ways you can treat the flu at home.
“For mild symptoms drink plenty of fluids, and stay in is the best advice,” Barbe said. “However, if symptoms are getting worse, you need to consult with your physician to decide what the best approach to treatment might be.”