Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Doctors Make Recommendations for Staying Healthy During COVID-19 and Flu Season

A student receives a flu shot at the Wilce Student Health Center. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Lantern File Photo

In recent years, Ohio state students have been going through the flu from late fall to early spring, but this year also brings the threat of COVID-19.

However, due to COVID-19 prevention practices, Dr. Hiten Patel, a family doctor at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said preventing the flu may be easier than in previous years. Students can stay healthy against viruses, be it the flu or COVID-19, by understanding and recognizing the signs of infection and practicing good hygiene.

“The flu really wasn’t something that spread over the last year and a lot of it, we believe, the healthcare community, is due to masking, hand hygiene, as well as ‘to social distancing, so do whatever will prevent transmission again this year, ”Patel said.

Patel said the flu, commonly referred to as the flu, is a respiratory virus similar to general human coronaviruses and COVID-19. Transmission occurs when a person sneezes, coughs, or takes a deep breath, spreading droplets of the virus into the air.

According to Ohio Department of Health, the flu season in Ohio can start as early as October and continue through March, with an estimated 200,000 people hospitalized with the flu each year in the United States

Wearing a mask, avoiding close contact with sick people and frequent hand washing can prevent viruses such as COVID-19 and the flu, Patel said.

As for their differences, Patel said the flu shows symptoms closer to the onset of infection, while those who contract COVID-19 may not show symptoms early on.

“A big distinction between what COVID typically causes and what the flu causes is the sudden onset, more fever, headache, body aches,” Patel said. “As COVID tends to be a bit more insidious, people sometimes feel a bit tired, have a slight body aches, a slight fever, and then they start to develop some of the respiratory symptoms. “

Patel said that even though the students have general overlapping symptoms and feel they have not been exposed to COVID-19, they should get tested to make sure they are not transmitting the virus to d ‘others without knowing it.

“If it is the flu and they are able to find out, there is potentially a cure for the flu,” Patel said. “If it is COVID, they certainly need to be isolated because the symptoms are somewhat indistinguishable, especially at the beginning. It is difficult to say where you have been exposed or when you have been exposed.

Dr Mark Conroy, an emergency physician and sports doctor at the medical center, said taking good care of your body can play a role in preventing disease.

“At the same time, you stay healthy in the winter, get enough sleep, and eat healthy,” Conroy said. “Your body is directing its resources elsewhere, trying to stay healthy as best it can, so you just don’t have the same level of energy to perform at your highest level. “

Patel said it’s not clear when is the optimal time to get a flu shot, but recommends doing so in October to allow antibodies to develop two to four weeks after.

“We know that the flu season tends to peak in December, January, February, and so if you get the vaccine before October, your body will develop the antibodies by the time the peak of the flu season hits,” he said. Patel said.

Patel said the flu shot is available at most pharmacies and if students are established with a primary care doctor in Columbus or at the medical center, it should be available to them.

Conroy said recognizing symptoms is important for students when making decisions about interacting with others to prevent the flu and COVID-19 from spreading, especially in groups.

“The most important thing is knowing and trusting everyone to stay home when you’re not feeling well,” Conroy said. “When you are sick, you are sick, and this is your chance to stay home, to rest and to recover.


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