Chicago’s top doctor explains how to tell the difference – NBC Chicago

As temperatures continue to cool, health experts expect both flu and COVID-19 cases to surge in the coming months as more activity moves indoors.

As many people are recovering from COVID or have recently recovered from COVID, some are wondering what symptoms persist and whether new ones may develop.

On Tuesday, Chicago’s top doctor, Allison Arwady, answered a question during a Facebook Live session about dizziness, a symptom reported in some during recovery from COVID.

Arwady said that while patients are more likely to develop dizziness while recovering from COVID, the symptom is not specific to the virus and has been associated with other infections during recovery.

“We see people after an ear infection, after a flu infection, a number of things can make people more likely to develop dizziness. And so, in general, you’re a little more likely to develop dizziness if you’ve recently recovered from COVID. ‘ said Arwady.

As for the flu, according to Chicago’s top doctor, the season hasn’t “started in any serious way” yet. Meanwhile, health experts are warning residents about the symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19 while encouraging vaccination for both.

According to Arwady, both viruses have multiple strains that are active at the same time, resulting in slight differences in symptoms from case to case.

Because COVID symptoms and flu symptoms are often very similar, Arwady said there is only one way to be sure which virus you may have contracted.

“Typically, people who get the flu tend to have a fever, have body aches, feel more like they were hit by a truck, and can feel quite ill. But of course people can get those with COVID too. So the bottom line is you have to take a test to know for sure,” Arwady said.

While Chicago health officials are not currently seeing any noticeable increase in flu cases, information on the spread of the flu is being gathered through surveillance reports.

Arwady also encouraged access to the most up-to-date information and resources the city has collected in its database on the flu.

As for COVID-19, the latest BA.5 variant remains the leading cause of cases in the United States. New omicron-specific booster shots have recently become readily available, with health officials encouraging widespread vaccination ahead of an expected spike in cases in the fall and winter months.

While upper respiratory symptoms are currently the telltale sign of the virus, some changes in symptoms have been observed as the virus has evolved.

“We see a lot of things happen as the virus changes, you know,” said Dr. Isaac Ghinai earlier this month, a medical director for the Chicago Department of Health who oversees COVID-19 testing and lab monitoring. “Omicron and its sublineages are an example of the virus changing a bit, and there is evidence that different lineages of the virus can cause slightly different symptoms.”

Ghinai said differences in symptoms could also be influenced by the introduction of vaccines and their subsequent widespread use nearly a year into the pandemic.

“For example, there is evidence that loss of taste and smell are less common in omicron than in some earlier lineages. All of this is also likely influenced by the fact that many more people are being vaccinated than before,” Ghinai said.

Regardless of the changes in symptoms, Ghinai said getting vaccinated and boosted can significantly improve symptoms of the virus when infected.

“Certainly the severity of the symptoms when you’re vaccinated is much less and the severity of the symptoms when you’re boosted is even less, so the look can kind of change,” Ghinai said.

As for the symptoms that often last the longest? a cough.

“That’s what lasts the longest, almost always,” Chicago’s top doctor Allison Arwady said at a news conference earlier this month. “A cough is usually the most lasting effect. This is always the case if you have a viral infection. You may feel totally better, and you’ll still have some irritation.”

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, early symptoms of COVID are typically fatigue, headache, sore throat, or fever.

A study by researchers at the University of Southern California found that a fever may appear first, as well as a cough and muscle aches. Then those infected are likely to experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Unlike other respiratory diseases like MERS and SARS, COVID patients are likely to develop nausea and vomiting before diarrhea, the researchers noted.

Digestive symptoms can, in some cases, be the first sign that someone has contracted COVID. They are known to develop at the onset of infection, with respiratory symptoms possibly following a day later, according to an Emerson Health article.

Still, some symptoms like shortness of breath are less common as the virus continues to mutate. dr Sharon Welbel, the director of Hosptial Epidemiology and Infection Control at Cook County Health, said earlier this month that fever and cough have become more common symptoms in recent months.

“It was so incredibly heterogeneous in terms of symptoms and what people have,” Welbel said. “I find that with omicron we know that fever, cough are still the most common – not so much shortness of breath anymore.”

Experts warn patients that the severity or even the nature of the initial symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. “I think that varies a lot from person to person,” Welbel said. “It depends on age, it depends on comorbid diseases, it depends on vaccination status, if you’ve been infected before you possibly know the immune system will be revved up more… So I think there’s no way it’s going to happen.” to protect.”

The CDC says the median time for symptoms to appear in a patient with the different Omicron lines could be as little as three days.

In general, symptoms typically appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC. However, how long they last can depend on the person, the severity of their infection, and whether or not they end up with a long COVID.

“Some people say they feel better one day, others say they still have symptoms three weeks later,” Welbel said.

Symptoms of the virus include:

-fever or chills


-Shortness of breath


-Muscle or body pain


-Recent loss of taste or smell

-Sore throat

-Congestion or runny nose

– Nausea or vomiting


Patients are urged to seek emergency medical attention if they notice any of the following:

-difficulty breathing

-Persistent chest pain or pressure

-New confusion

-Inability to wake up or stay awake

– Pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nail beds

Leave a Comment