Know the difference between covid-19, flu and other seasonal allergies
The pandemic has sent us all into a frenzy. Since the emergence of the novel virus last year, we have been living in survival mode. A few sneezes and a scratchy throat are enough to send us into a downward spiral of fear and worry. Sure, it has made us aware of our body and its needs, but it has also caused people unnecessary anxiety. As a result, people have started self-medicating without the proper guidance of a medical professional. Incorrect dosage and improper manner of administration may cause adverse negative side effects. It may also worsen the ailment and delay the appropriate course of treatment. Especially in the case of children and elderly with comorbidities, one should avoid self-medication at all cost.

Diseases with similar set of symptoms

On the surface, several illnesses show similar kinds of symptoms. It could, however, be triggered by a variety of underlying conditions, of varying severity. Some of the symptoms of covid-19 like fever, runny nose, headache and itchy throat are similar to other respiratory illnesses. It also has similarities with other viral diseases like typhoid and malaria. Chills, high grade fever, and a loss of appetite are some of the symptoms shared by these ailments. A patient infected with SARS-CoV-2 may also remain asymptomatic after contracting the virus. This has been commonly found among children and teens. 

Signs to look for…

There are several resources available online that can assist people in identifying some tell-tale signs of a specific illness. Simple charts from reliable sources that show a side-by-side comparison of the various symptoms that can occur if a person contracts covid-19, a cold, the flu, or seasonal allergies, should be kept handy. This can be used as a checklist to help a person determine what illness they may have if a group of symptoms appear at the same time. One needs to be mindful of the fact that the symptoms are always evolving and it is necessary to keep track of these changes.



Importance of seeking immediate medical attention

At a glance, it becomes difficult to ascertain the source of the affliction. These differences can only be discerned by a doctor. As a result, we must avoid self-medication and seek medical care if symptoms persist and the patient’s health deteriorates. It is always a good practice to keep your family pediatrician or doctor on the loop whenever you or anyone in your family starts feeling a bit under the weather. 

Because of the overlapping nature of how different illnesses develop, it is critical that we as parents and caregivers understand the difference between these ailments. This basic knowledge will assist us in making informed decisions and will be useful in early detection.

The effect on the paediatric age group

People across all age groups are equally susceptible to these illnesses. However, in case of the novel coronavirus the paediatric age group is currently more vulnerable than the rest of the age groups. Experts predict that the incoming third wave will disproportionately affect the children and those in their teens, owing to the fact that they are not eligible for vaccination yet. Despite the fact that clinical trials for this category have begun, mass availability of vaccines for them may be delayed in the face of current vaccine scarcity. 


Children are also prone to secondary infections. During the first wave, there were several cases where children who contracted covid were detected with possible cases of Kawasaki syndrome in Mumbai and Delhi. According to a report published by CDC in February 2021, covid-19 can also trigger what is called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. MIS-C causes inflammation in different parts of a child’s body like kidney, lungs, heart, brain, eyes and so on. 

With the lockdowns being partially lifted, one can expect that the schools may reopen at a staggered manner. Hence, it is vital that we do not let our guard down and rather take all the preventive measures to protect our children from catching the virus. 

Adapt adequate preventive measures

In the given circumstances, good hygiene and social distancing norms should be incorporated into a child’s daily routine.Without adding to their anxiety, children should be educated about the virus and made aware of its severity. If a parent notices that their child is developing symptoms that could indicate that they are coming down with something, they should make arrangements to isolate the child and monitor them at regular intervals. If isolation is not possible, the caregivers should at least wear a mask around them and sanitise thoroughly. The next logical step should be to contact a doctor. If a pediatrician is not immediately available then a general physician can guide you through the preliminary steps. 

For the time being, children between the age of 0 to 18 have to rely solely on their natural immune system to safeguard them from the deadly virus. Hence, their overall health and wellness needs to be prioritised. Immune-boosting foods such as spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, almonds, and eggs should be included in their diet. Allergy season is upon us. Light cardio and breathing exercises will help their respiratory health. Immunocompromised children are advised to be cautious but calm. Stress and anxiety can manifest physically, affecting one’s immunity.

The focus should be on building their immune response. This will give them a better chance of surviving any illness, whether it’s a cold, flu, or covid-19. A well-balanced diet, healthy mind and regular exercise can take your child a long way. However, one should keep in mind that these are only precautionary measures and do not guarantee that your child will not become ill. Proper protocol should be followed at the sight of the onset of any kind of symptom until a proper diagnosis is received. A doctor should be duly contacted. One should not take medical decisions unless qualified to. Seeking medical care at an early stage improves the prognosis. Prevents the development of serious symptoms.Your prompt action can help your child better manage these illnesses.


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