The Rising Nepal
Kathmandu, Nov. 3: With winter approaching, Nepal is entering the cold and flu season. The illnesses are common enough and in normal years, would not have been a big deal. But 2020 is not a normal year and with the COVID-19 pandemic raging on around us, winter has the potential to raise many public health challenges.
Sharing similar symptoms like cough, fever and body aches, people might mistake coronavirus infections for common cold or flu, which can largely be managed at home without the need for serious medical interventions, and not adopting precautions or seeking proper help. On the flip side, people might panic over every cough or sneeze and might demand Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, stretching limited resources and burdening the system.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States and the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, among other national and international health agencies, have elaborated extensively on the three diseases. Based on their descriptions, an overview of the differences in their symptoms is given here.
One of the key symptoms of COVID-19 is the development of a dry cough. This cough is continuous, that is, persistent coughing for more than one hour or three or more coughing spells a day. Another distinctive symptom of COVID-19 is a loss or change in the sense of smell and taste. Similarly, there is a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flu also consists of fever and dry cough but they are accompanied by fatigue, headaches, body pains, sore throat, diarrhoea and/or loss of appetite. The onset of symptoms is also much more rapid in flu than in the common cold or COVID-19.
In addition to a mild cough and a sore throat, those with common cold experience constant sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose. Common cold rarely causes fever.