Indy doctor breaks down difference between flu, COVID-19, allergies

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The number of positive COVID-19 tests increases every day as more people get tested for the virus.

You may be at home wondering if you have COVID-19, the flu, or maybe allergies.

“What seems to be predominate in the coronavirus, the COVID-19 patients, is the shortness of breath, and that’s generally when we get concerned,” said Community Health ER Dr. Chris Ross.

If you’re having trouble breathing, Ross said it’s your body telling you something is wrong.

“It’s going to be worse with exertion, and if it’s getting to the point where you’re just sitting there and short of breath, and short of breath with exertion, that’s generally a warning sign that it’s something that you should look into,” Ross said.

If it’s an emergency, Ross suggests going to the emergency room, but call ahead first. If it’s really serious, call 911.

“If they aren’t having severe shortness of breath and their oxygen levels look good to us, those people are going home, and in general, those people are doing very well,” Ross said.

 If you’re experiencing other symptoms, it may be wise to wait.

“If they think it’s something mild, there are a lot of different clinics and doctors offices that have developed telehealth services just for this specific circumstance,” Ross said.

Ross said it’s hard for the average Hoosier to know definitively if they have the flu or COVID-19.

“Symptoms for the flu would be body aches, some people get some vomiting, diarrhea, GI illness along with that. Those would be things typically associated with the flu,” Ross said.

A high fever and a cough can be symptoms of both COVID-19 or the flu.

“Some people have a wet cough with coronavirus. Coronavirus has generally been associated with a dry cough, but that’s not hard set,” Ross said.

 Allergies cause similar problems too, minus the body aches and fever.

“I think having definitive, ‘This is coronavirus,’ or not isn’t really possible. You should be reassured that the vast [majority of] patients with coronavirus do very well at home with really no treatment.” Ross said.

He added that there are several studies out there that say 70% of people will get COVID-19, but he says people shouldn’t really pay attention to those stats. It’s hard to apply that information to Indiana.

“In Indiana, we are generally bit more spread out than places like New York and Italy that have been pretty hard hit. That may be good or bad. We are not sure yet,” Ross said.

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