Fever, cough, runny nose, body aches are symptoms that are common to both Covid and the ordinary flu. Doctors said that if it wasn’t for the pandemic, rest, rehydration and medication for fever and allergy would have sufficed. But with Covid around, they need to find out if the symptoms have been triggered by Covid infection.
“In the times of this pandemic, it is difficult to diagnose whether it is just any viral infection or Covid. In Covid, fever is expected to be followed by cough and cold and vice versa. The symptoms are similar in other viral infections, too. But the demarcation line is very thin. At the end of the day, we need to rule out any kind Covid infection,” said internal medicine specialist Arindam Biswas of RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences.
The health system must keep in mind the seasonal viral diseases as well. This is the usual dengue-malaria season and the pre-existing virals, too, can be debilitating.
In addition to the seasonal flu doctors are also expecting cases viral infections like swine flu, adenovirus and rhinovirus. “The challenge during this seasonal change is to detect that the fever, cough and cold that a patient is having is non-Covid. If it was not for the pandemic, people suffering from such symptoms could have just stayed at home, drunk plenty of water and taken anti-allergy as well as fever medication. But because of the pandemic, the golden rule is to exclude the possibility of Covid infection,” said internal medicine specialist at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals Syamasis Bandyopadhyay. “So, people should not get annoyed if they are told to go for a Covid test if they have these overlapping symptoms.”
Even as Covid has been sparing to kids mostly, they like the elderly and those with co-morbidities, are susceptible to seasonal flu and other viral ailments
Currently, paediatrician Prabhas Parsun Giri sees around 20 children in the OPD every day for symptoms of seasonal flu. He tries to take down family history, like if someone elder at home has fever and other symptoms or not before asking to take a Covid test. “It is a tough job to distinguish between symptoms of winter exacerbation of other respiratory illness and that of Covid. Seasonal flu is very common, especially among children, during this time. Besides the seasonal flu and other viral infections, we fear a rise in incidence of various types of non-Covid pneumonia, which will add more challenges to doctors,” said Giri.
With winter almost here and pollution level likely to go up, doctors also there would be further escalation in number of other respiratory ailments, like asthma and COPD.