Muhanad Mohamed, M.B.B.S.
Most people who get COVID-19 or flu can treat themselves at home, and they often don't need to see a health care provider.
You also can be infected with COVID-19 and flu at the same time, or another respiratory illness, which is why you can be tested for COVID-19, flu, respiratory syncytial virus and group A streptococcus (strep throat) during one appointment at Mayo Clinic Health System.
Common signs and symptoms for both COVID-19 and flu include:
- Muscle aches
- Chills and sweats
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Dry, persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Tiredness and weakness
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Other symptoms of COVID-19 may include a loss of taste or smell, pinkeye, nausea and chest pain.
Whether you have flu or COVID-19 with mild symptoms, there are ways you can manage your symptoms at home:
Be sure to drink plenty of liquids, such as water, juice and warm soups, to prevent dehydration. Avoid sugary drinks.
Catch up on your sleep to help your immune system fight off the infection.
Generally, you'll need nothing more than bed rest and fluids. You also may consider an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce some of the aches associated with flu. If you are infected with flu, your health care provider may prescribe an antiviral medication. If taken soon after you notice symptoms, the medication may shorten your illness by a day or so and help prevent serious complications. If you are infected with COVID-19, you may meet criteria to receive COVID-19 therapeutics, including remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies or casirivimab and imdevimab (Regeneron) monoclonal antibody treatment.
It's important to take these measures to ensure the viruses don't spread to others around you:
- Wash your hands.
Thorough and frequent hand-washing or cleaning hands using an alcohol-based sanitizer are effective ways to prevent the spread of germs.
- Contain your coughs and sneezes.
Cover your mouth or nose when you sneeze or cough, and wash your hands after. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
- Avoid groups of people.
By avoiding groups of people, you may reduce your chances of infection and spreading to others. If you're sick with the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides to lessen your chance of infecting others.
- Wear a mask and practice social distancing.
If you must leave your home, such as to get medication, wear a mask and maintain at least a 6-foot span between you and others.
Once you are no longer infectious, it's important to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu. And you can get both shots at the same time. Call your primary care provider or self-schedule using Patient Online Services or the Mayo Clinic App. A flu shot is recommended for all patients 6 months and older. A COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all patients 5 years and older.