Is it COVID or is it Flu?
Today, if you wake up with a headache, fever, sore throat, cough and body aches, you probably will spend significant time wondering if it is the flu or COVID. In the past, you may have spent a few minutes running down a list of people you’d been around who had the flu, but now you have to worry about exposure to COVID-19. As the threat of the new Omicron variant looms large, we have to be especially vigilant with ourselves and our children. So how do you know if it’s Influenza A or if it’s COVID? At Medco ER & Urgent Care in Plano, TX, our board-certified physicians are here to help you answer that dilemma.
“The difficulty is in the shared symptoms,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Medical Director, Dr. Nasir Khan. “Both influenza and COVID can present with fever, chills, muscle soreness, and cough. Some people experience diarrhea and vomiting with either condition. So, short of getting tested, it is hard to know whether it’s flu or COVID.”
There are many similarities between flu and COVID-19, though the severity can vary. People may experience very mild cases of either condition, or they can experience severe cases and even need hospitalization. Either flu or COVID can result in secondary infections, such as pneumonia, and require advanced treatment.
Here’s a list of the common symptoms1 that can occur in either condition:
- Body aches
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
“One of the most prominent symptoms that may help you know the difference is the classic loss of the senses of taste and smell. Usually, that is a good way to realize you probably have COVID and should come in and get tested right away,” said Dr. Khan. “Additionally, if you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, that is another indicator of COVID, but it could also mean you’re moving into a chest condition with the flu. But that should be looked at right away by one of our qualified physicians.”
How it is spread
Both the flu and COVID are highly contagious, though they are caused by completely different viruses. They are both spread through contact with other people who are infected with the germs. Coughs and sneezes can transmit microscopic droplets laden with the virus, or even just talking can transmit the virus. When these droplets are inhaled or enter through the eyes or mouth, the virus then spreads to that person.2
Medco ER & Urgent Care is ready to help
If you are unsure if you have the flu or COVID, come to Medco ER & Urgent Care right away for a Rapid Antigen Test with one swipe swab. Results are ready in 15 minutes, so you will know right away if you have the flu or COVID. Not ready to come in? Try a telehealth visit and get fast advice from one of our board-certified physicians.
- Book a Rapid Antigen Test at Plano:
3960 Legacy Drive, Plano, TX 75023 (on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road)
Call us @ 469-392-4000
- Book a Rapid Antigen Test at Carrollton:
2745 E Belt Line Road, Carrollton, TX 75006
Top Reasons to go to the ER Even During COVID-19 Pandemic
For many people, the coronavirus pandemic has caused concerns about receiving safe medical treatment. However, visiting the ER in times of need is quite appropriate and safe. At Medco ER & Urgent Care, we made extra efforts to adhere to the safety guidelines recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) during the height of COVID-19. We have also taken extraordinary measures to make sure our patients have safe medical care and efficient access to top quality care in a timely fashion.
“We pride ourselves on our excellent, safe medical care, even during unusual times of pandemic,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora. “If you have an urgent medical condition, don’t hesitate to come in and be seen by one of our board-certified physicians. You can be confident anytime in the care you receive here.”
What conditions are considered an emergency?
Any type of serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, numbness, abdominal pain, chest pain, loss of consciousness, and/or atypical headache are some common reasons to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency room.
Medical problems we commonly treat at Medco ER include:
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Broken bone
- Sprains and strains
- Lacerations, scrapes or cuts
- Upper respiratory infection
- Respiratory distress
- Back pain
- Foreign object in body
- Circulation concerns
- Pregnancy complications
- Burns or wound care
- Diabetes complications
- Renal failure
- Blood in urine or stool
- High blood pressure
- Mental and behavioral health concerns
- Flu or virus
- Allergic reactions
- Uncontrolled diarrhea and vomiting
- Animal bites
Additionally, anyone suffering with symptoms of COVID-19 should seek safe medical care. Symptoms vary but can include: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, neck ache or stiffness, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
COVID-19 symptoms considered an emergency by the CDC include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
“We are always here for you,” said Dr. Vora. “If you are unsure about a medical emergency or even something minor, we can perform a preliminary examination and determine the next steps in terms of diagnostics and treatment. With advanced imaging equipment and lab tests, we’re prepared to safely treat both medical emergencies and minor conditions with expert care.”
Negative Pressure Room
Using some of the latest technology, we have an exam room that is designed with negative pressure environmental controls. This helps contain any viruses, bacteria or airborne contaminants and keeps them from spreading throughout the facility.
Other safety protocols
In our continued, aggressive response to COVID-19, we have safety protocols in place to make sure our patients are protected against viruses and germs as best as possible. Here are some of our safety measures:
- N95 masks and room sanitization in the facility
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the entire staff
- Aggressive screening measures right at the entrance
- Regular staff screening with daily bodily temperature recording
- Clean waiting areas for patients & visitors
- Social distancing
- Designated areas for patients presenting for COVID-19 screening
- Rigorous cleaning and disinfection protocols
Come Right Away to Medco ER & Urgent Care
If you or people you love are experiencing symptoms of an urgent medical condition, don’t hesitate to come in for fast and expert help at Medco ER & Urgent Care. We’re open 24-hours a day to make sure you can get the medical care you need with little or no waiting time.
- Plano location:
3960 Legacy Drive, Plano TX 75023 (on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road)
Call us @ 469-392-4000
Flu vs. COVID-19
Influenza (commonly known as the flu) and COVID-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses and can easily spread to others. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses.
COVID-19 is caused by the 2019 coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2.
Flu is caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.
- Both illnesses can cause fever, cough, body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea (especially in children).
- Both can result in pneumonia.
- Both flu and COVID-19 can be mild or severe, or even fatal in rare cases.
COVID-19 can sometimes cause a person to suddenly lose their sense of smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia).
By contrast, flu does not typically affect a person’s sense of smell or taste.
Shortness of breath is quite common with COVID-19 while it is a rare symptom of the flu.
Many people infected with the coronavirus do not feel sick or have any symptoms at all, but they can still transmit the virus to other people. By contrast, most people infected with flu tend to be symptomatic.
So how long does it take for symptoms to appear after exposure and infection?
If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu.
Typically, a person develops symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection.
Typically, a person develops symptoms 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary.
How do they spread?
- Both the flu and COVID-19 spread in similar ways. Droplets or smaller virus particles from a sick person can transmit the virus to other people nearby. The smallest particles may linger in the air, and another person can inhale them and become infected.
- However, COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, though research is ongoing.
- Again, it’s important to note that people infected with the coronavirus or the flu may not realize they are sick for several days and, during that time, can unknowingly spread the disease to others before they even feel sick.
What are some complications caused by these illnesses?
Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications, including:
- Respiratory failure requiring supplemental oxygen support
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs), which usually lands people in ICU
- Heart problems
- Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock) commonly known as sepsis
- Secondary bacterial infections
Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can include:
- Blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain
COVID-19 close to 3%. FLU causes <1% of deaths among the people infected.
Testing Options available:
Influenza or the FLU:
First of all, influenza virus testing is not required to make a clinical diagnosis of influenza in patients with suspected influenza, particularly during periods of increased cases. However, influenza virus testing can inform clinical management when these results may influence decisions such as:
- initiating antiviral treatment
- performing other diagnostic testing
- implementing infection prevention and control measures for influenza
Influenza virus testing is recommended for all patients with suspected influenza who are being admitted to the hospital. Furthermore, during a respiratory illness outbreak in a closed setting (such as long-term care facility or nursing homes), testing for influenza virus infection can be very helpful in determining if influenza is the cause of the outbreak.
There are several diagnostic tests available for detection of influenza viruses in respiratory specimens.
For the purposes of this forum, I would just like to mention the Rapid Influenza Diagnostic tests, which are readily available in outpatient settings, such as the doctors’ office and urgent care clinics. They can detect influenza viral antigens in 10-15 minutes with a reasonable accuracy.
Since COVID-19 is a new disease, information about the tests to detect the disease with high accuracy is still evolving. But here’s what we know now about tests that are currently available to the public:
Diagnostic tests for current COVID-19 infection:
If you want to know if you are currently infected with the COVID-19 virus, there are TWO types of tests:
- Molecular tests
- Antigen tests
Molecular tests (also called PCR tests)
How is it done? Nasal swabs, throat swabs, and tests of saliva or other bodily fluids.
You can get it done at a hospital or in a medical office.
What does the test look for? Molecular tests look for genetic material that comes only from the virus.
How long does it take to get results? It depends on lab capacity. Results may be ready the same day, but usually take at least a day or two. Throughout the pandemic, especially lately, delayed turnaround times of up to a week or two have been reported in many places.
A molecular test using a deep nasal swab is usually the best option, because it will have fewer false negative results than other diagnostic tests or samples from throat swabs or saliva. People who are in the hospital, though, may have other types of samples taken.
It is also performed using a nasal or throat swab.
It can be obtained at a hospital or doctor’s office or even at home (Quest Diagnostics, costs around $130).
If the test is negative, it should be confirmed by the PCR test which is more specific for COVID-19
This is a third type of test that requires a sample of blood. It checks for antibodies in the blood. However, it does not differentiate between the present and past infection.
Moreover, having an antibody test too early can lead to false negative results. That’s because it takes a week or two after infection for your immune system to produce antibodies.
The bottom line:
Unfortunately, getting a test for COVID-19 can be confusing because the options are changing and tests from many companies are being marketed. Despite the current limitations of testing, we’re lucky to have reasonably accurate tests available so early in the course of a newly identified virus.
Getting a flu vaccine this year may be more important than ever to reduce stress on healthcare facilities that are already busy with COVID-19 care.
Emergency care available
If you are having trouble breathing, have chest pain, inability to stay awake, confusion or blue lips or face, come to Medco ER & Urgent Care immediately for help.
If you suspect you have COVID-19, come in for evaluation.
If you think you have COVID-19 and you have a preexisting, chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, kidney disease, asthma, obesity, lung disease or if you are pregnant, come in for evaluation.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road.
Call us @ 469-392-4000.
– Dr. Tariq Vora, Medco ER & Urgent Care
5 Ways to Keep Your Child Healthy This School Year
COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected the adult world of health, finance and even social interactions, it has also forced us all to rethink the safety of our children as they go back to school to face a potential influx of germs and infections. And we know that some of these germs could potentially have very serious consequences.
While we all want our kids to get the most out of their education, no one wants to sacrifice their children’s health to that end. At Medco ER & Urgent Care, we’re here to help. Our board-certified physicians have compiled 5 ways you can safeguard your child’s health while school starts back up.
“Despite a solid game plan in place that correlates with the school district’s reentry plan, parents are still concerned about sending their kids to school. However, by adhering to the proper guidelines, the risk of infection can be minimized,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora.
Tip 1: Immune System Boosters
“The best thing you can do for your child is to nurture a strong immune system,” said Dr. Vora. “Making sure your child gets a balanced diet each day with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, protein, complex carbohydrates and water, eliminating refined sugar and processed foods, and using vitamin supplements are good places to start.”
Establishing a regular bedtime with plenty of hours of sleep is part of teaching your child good sleep hygiene. This is an often overlooked aspect of having a strong, healthy body.
Keep tabs on stress levels. If your child runs at high levels of stress, over time this can impact the immune system. Do what you can to infuse laughter and fun into each day and talk through any difficulties to keep your child healthy and trouble-free.
Tip 2: Sanitize Clothes and Masks Daily
Have your children get in the habit of changing their clothes immediately upon coming home and placing them in the dirty laundry. Cloth masks should be washed each night and paper masks should be disposed of properly (not recycled). It may be more convenient to do a small load of laundry each night to ensure your child has sanitized clothes and mask to start each new day. Don’t forget to disinfect the laundry hamper and wash your own hands afterwards.
Tip 3: Teach Healthy Practices at Home
To prepare your child for a healthy school year and beyond, proper hand washing techniques are crucial. Teach your child to wash his or her hands every time after using the bathroom and before eating. Instruct them to wash hands immediately upon returning home and after changing clothes. Demonstrate the right way to wash between the fingers, under the nails and on the fronts and backs of hands for 20 seconds using soap and water.
Pack hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack for on-the-go cleaning. If your child moves from classroom to classroom throughout the day, consider packing non-bleach disinfecting wipes so each desk and chair can be cleaned before use.
Tip 4: Masks are a Must
Even more than backpacks, masks are essential back-to-school gear now for every student. But it’s not enough to give a mask to your child and send him or her out the door. Kids need to know the proper way to wear the mask – covering both the nose and the chin – and that they are not supposed to remove the mask even to answer questions or to talk to friends, and they should not share or exchange masks with friends.
“We should teach our kids how to sneeze and cough when wearing a mask. They should learn to cough or sneeze into the mask. If you can, pack an extra mask each day. Then, your child can swap out when it has gotten dirty,” said Dr. Vora.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle parents face in mask training is getting their kids to wear them for long periods of time. This actually may require practice at home to get the children desensitized to the mask.
Tip 5: Monitor Temperature and Symptoms
Taking your child’s temperature each day can be painless with a digital thermometer. This constant vigilance will help ensure your child is feeling his best at the beginning of the day. If your child has a headache, cough or runny nose, keep him/her home to be on the safe side, and follow up with a health care provider.
Get fast treatment at Medco ER & Urgent Care
At Medco ER, we are here all day, every day, to take care of your family when needed. Our board-certified physicians are always available and ready to assess your child’s health at a moment’s notice. If you are worried about exposure to coronavirus, talk to us about any noticeable symptoms. We can help.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road.
Call us @ 469-392-4000.
Is it Safe to Come to the ER Now?
Like many others, you may be wondering about the wisdom of coming to the ER during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your safety and health are our #1 priority at Medco ER & Urgent Care. We feel it is a privilege to serve you with extensive safety measures in place. Providing quality healthcare round-the-clock is our passion, and we do it with an eye to excellence.
You’ve probably heard the stories of people who have stayed home with serious medical conditions—like heart attack, stroke, pneumonia or diabetic crisis—rather than “risk” going to the emergency room. “We strongly discourage the idea of not going to the ER because of the chance of catching coronavirus,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora. “With stringent sanitizing practices and carefully thought-out safety precautions in place at Medco, there’s no reason to fear going to the emergency room when you need it.”
Negative Pressure Room
When it comes to treating patients safely in a sterile environment, preparation is key. And Medco ER has been prepared for infection control using some of the most advanced technology. One example of this is our specialized Negative Pressure Room, which helps to prevent airborne diseases (such as Flu and COVID-19) from escaping the room and infecting other people.
Here’s a peek at some of the other protocols we’ve implemented to ensure you will receive top quality care in a sanitized, safe and secluded environment.
As soon as you walk in the freshly sanitized, touch-free door, you will find a secure processing center complete with hand sanitizers, masks and an intake specialist who will screen you for fever and symptoms.
Safe waiting area
If you have a non-COVID-19 related health concern, you may be seated in our clean waiting area arranged to help you distance from other patients. If possible, you may be escorted to your newly sanitized exam room to wait instead.
We have a protocol for separating any cases that are suspected to be COVID-19 related. If you enter with a non-COVID condition, you can be assured that you will be kept completely separated from any other cases and that every precaution will be taken to ensure your health and safety. Our rigid infection control practices follow the highest standards possible to maintain the safety of everyone in the clinic.
Sanitized exam room
Each patient will have access to a freshly cleaned exam room. In your sanitary, enclosed environment, you can finish filling out the paperwork and be seen by your board-certified physician. If diagnostic tests are needed, you can wait in your room for the rapid results and then speak to your physician about treatment options.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Our team of caring professionals has access to the personal protective equipment needed to keep us and our patients safe from the spread of contagion. We are practicing the recognized guidelines for safe measures including masks, gloves and eye protection, when needed.
Should I come in just for a common condition like a UTI or dehydration?
If you are suffering from a common medical condition and need to see a doctor right away, Medco ER & Urgent Care is open day or night to serve you. We are here to apply our experience to all kinds of medical concerns. Our Plano location has easy access and is open 24/7. You can trust us with your healthcare needs.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road.
Call us @ 469-392-4000.
5 Things about Keeping You & Your Kids Healthy that Facebook Won’t Tell You
We’ve all seen the memes to combat the coronavirus scare that’s paralyzing the world: “Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands,” and there is a lot of truth to that glib comment. Social media has unending anecdotal remarks to offer in the never-ending quest to keep yourself and your children healthy during this busy flu and coronavirus season. But what do the medical experts have to say?
We’ve compiled our 5 best suggestions for staying healthy and avoiding the flu or coronavirus.
1. Wash your hands the right way
Yes, everyone knows we need to wash our hands frequently during flu season, but it might be a surprise to hear that very few adults do it correctly. Begin with warm water and plenty of soap. Make sure to wash the backs of the hands and the fingernails as well. Wash for 20 seconds, or two rounds of “Happy Birthday.” Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door.
Take time to remind and reteach your children how to wash the right way and quiz them on opportunities they have at school to wash and to use hand sanitizer. “Hand washing is the #1 way to get rid of coronavirus germs,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora.
2. Cover up
When you sneeze or cough, use a tissue or cover your mouth with your elbow to block microscopic particles from becoming airborne. Wash or sanitize after sneezing. Some people have opted to wear medical masks in public to reduce the risk of exposure.
3. Avoid contact
Avoid touching your face – eyes, nose, mouth – to reduce the risk of receiving or transmitting germs. If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others. Don’t share eating utensils or glasses. Use your own towels, bedding and clothes and keep them clean. If you know someone who is sick, avoid that person until he or she has been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
4. Build up your immune system
Diets high in refined sugars and starches can weaken immune systems. Limit the amount of sugars and empty carbs you and your children are consuming and opt instead for extra vegetables and fruits at mealtimes and as snacks.
Consider adding foods rich in:
- Vitamin C – kiwis, lemons, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, oranges
- Zinc – dairy, eggs, meat, whole grains, legumes, nuts
5. Develop clever ways to protect your hands from germs
Think through your day. Do you have to touch elevator buttons to get to work? Do you ride an escalator or travel a lot of stairs? Does your store or ATM have a touch screen? Do you share a keyboard with others? How many public doors do you have to open as you go about a typical work day? Do you look at a menu at the restaurant? Begin strategizing how to get through your day with less contact with public surfaces. Do the same for your child.
Gloves, tissues, paper towels, a pencil and other devices can provide a layer of protection as you navigate. A natural antibacterial spray for the air, such as tea tree oil and water, can help cut down airborne germs. And, of course, don’t forget the hand sanitizer for times you have to touch a public surface and don’t have a chance to wash.
When should I go to the ER?
A common variety of flu can be treated with rest, fluids and staying home. Over-the-counter fever reducers, cough suppressants and decongestants may provide some relief. However, secondary infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia can crop up and they require prompt medical attention. As a general rule, if you are still feeling bad after 3 days, seek medical help. If you are having difficulty breathing or have become too dehydrated, go to the nearest emergency room (ER) immediately.
With the coronavirus, symptoms can manifest anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. If you think you or your child may have contracted this virus, go to the nearest ER immediately. “Because the coronavirus requires containment and medical supervision, it is important that you tell your doctor right away if you think you have contracted the virus,” said Dr. Vora. “Include any information about recent travels and any exposure you may have had.”
Warning signs of coronavirus / COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
Where can I find help for the flu or virus?
For fast medical help, Medco ER & Urgent Care is available in two convenient locations. We’re always open, day and night, even on holidays. Within minutes of arriving, you will be ushered into a private room and will receive prompt care from a board-certified physician.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road. Call us @ 469-392-4000.
- Frisco: 5600 Eldorado Parkway across from McDonald’s and Costco. Call us @ 469-392-4100.