It’s fall, so that means people will soon be quarantining themselves from the cold winter, not just COVID-19. The possibility of getting sick is a clear and present danger this time of year, not only because of flu season, but because of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Sick days are no fun and can be anxiety-inducing when several viruses are going around. 

Whether you suspect COVID-19 or just a common cold, here are some tips for making it through sick days this cold and flu season. 


The first question to ask: Is it COVID-19? 

The symptoms of COVID-19 are well known. They include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nausea, congestion and/or diarrhea. Anyone of any age can have mild or severe symptoms, so it’s important to pay close attention to the way you feel. If you suspect that you may have COVID-19, first visit the CDC’s online coronavirus self-checker to help you determine what actions need to be taken to seek appropriate medical care. It will not diagnose you with coronavirus, but it can help you determine whether or not you should be tested. 


Don’t leave your house or have contact with anyone with a weakened immune system. 

Those with weakened immune systems due to cancer treatment, diabetes or heart disease may be at higher risk of contracting severe cases of common illnesses, which can end in death. For that reason, it is important to stay away from those who may be in a weakened state, even if they live in your household. Think about creating a section of the house dedicated to isolating those who get sick so you can prevent the spread of illness in your home. 


If you have an autoimmune disease or preexisting condition, check with your specialist for the best way to treat your illness while managing your disease. 

Some autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes can be affected by common illnesses such as the flu. For example, diabetics should be extra attentive to their blood sugar level when they are sick, because they may be eating or drinking less than usual. According to the CDC, when your body releases hormones to fight the illness, it may also increase your blood sugar in the process, causing you to need more insulin. 


As always, follow the basic guidelines for sick days: 

  • Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. 

  • Talk to your doctor before taking over-the-counter cold medicines. 

  • If you have symptoms that last for more than 10 days, talk to your doctor! 


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Dr. Lubna Maruf, M.D., is the medical director at QualChoice Health Insurance in Little Rock.