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What Is ‘Flurona’ and Should You Be Concerned About It?

Over the course of the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed the coinage of so many new words related to COVID-19. One of the latest words we noticed appearing is ‘flurona,’ which refers to the co-occurrence of the flu and COVID-19. Can you really catch the flu and coronavirus simultaneously? And if so, how can you tell that you’ve got ‘flurona’? Read on to find out.

‘Flurona’ isn’t a new occurrence

Flurona virus
Long story short, being sick with the flu and COVID-19 isn’t new. Since the early days of the pandemic, scientists have been saying that you can have what we now call “flurona,” but it may be more common this year than last year because people tend to interact with others more.
As schools, air travel, restaurants, and other public spaces remain open, we must be prepared that this year’s flu season will most likely overlap with the ongoing Covid crisis more than last year, so cases of flurona may be more widespread. The first cases of flurona in 2022 were confirmed in Israel this January, and others were also reported in other countries, including the United States.

How can you catch flurona?

Flurona woman in face mask near the window
The Influenza virus and the Novel Coronavirus are not linked, so you won’t get a combined infection from a person sick with the flu or COVID-19. The reason why they co-exist and cause flurona is that a person is exposed to both viruses in the span of a few days. Since the flu season peaks in the fall and winter and the two viruses are contracted identically, you’re more likely to catch them now than you did in the summer.
With all that being said, an average person's risk of catching both viruses simultaneously is pretty low, especially if you’re adhering to social distancing measures, wash your hands, and wear a mask when you’re outside. Some researchers are saying that the flu may be less infectious than Covid too, so all these preventative measures will work at protecting you against the flu even more.

Is flurona deadlier than the two illnesses separately?

Flurona sick man in bed

Statistical data show that between 12,000 and 52,000 people die of the flu each year, and scientists have recorded over 800,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in the US alone since the onset of the pandemic. So the question on everyone’s mind is, does ‘flurona’ increase the risk of serious and potentially fatal complications? “It is probably worse to have them together, but we really don’t know at this point,” stated Dr. Otto Yang, an infectious disease expert at UCLA Health to Reader’s Digest.

Catching either of the two viruses puts extra strain on the immune system. “It is true that when you’re infected, your immune system is under attack. Therefore your immune defenses are weakened. And therefore your ability to defend against another infection is reduced,” said David Edwards, a Harvard University scientist to Huffpost.

Therefore, being sick makes you more susceptible to other respiratory infections, potentially leading to flurona. Immunocompromised folks, older adults, and healthcare workers have the highest risk of getting both viruses.

How do you know if you have flurona?

Flurona covid picture

Distinguishing between the two conditions can be quite difficult, especially in milder cases, because the symptoms are just so similar. The hallmark symptoms of both the flu and mild COVID-19 are fever, muscle aches, cough, chills, runny nose, and headaches. In Covid, patients may also experience a loss of taste or smell and shortness of breath. Flu patients are also more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

For a comparative guide of flu and Covid symptoms, read our previous post - Covid-19 or the Flu: How to Tell the Difference.

One key difference between the two conditions is the onset time. If you’ve got the flu, you’ll likely experience symptoms 1-4 days after contracting the virus, whereas, in the case of coronavirus, symptoms can appear anytime between 2 and 14 days.

The only reliable way to diagnose flurona is by going to the doctor and getting tested for both the flu and the coronavirus. Your doctor can use the same swab to complete both tests, but double-check to make sure.

How to prevent flurona

Flurona face masks

As we already explained above, being sick with a cold or the flu weakens your immune system and increases your risk of catching other respiratory infections, including COVID-19. So, if you have a runny nose or a sore throat, stay at home until you recover completely and make sure to adhere to wash your hands and minimize contact with others as much as you can, even if you’re vaccinated both against the flu and Covid.

Of course, in an ideal situation, you can prevent developing both conditions altogether. The good news is, all the hand-washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing measures that are effective at lowering your risk of COVID-19 are also going to protect you from the flu. If you need a reminder of the proper hand-washing technique for disease prevention, move on to our step-by-step guide here: How to Wash Your Hands Correctly.

It may also be a good time for you to upgrade to a KN95 face mask if you spend time in public spaces. These masks are more effective at filtering out microscopic water droplets that are potentially filled with viruses. 

Have a safe and healthy winter!

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H/T: Reader's Digest, Huffpost

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