COVID-19 (coronavirus) generic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Health care professionals say the coming weeks could provide one of the most unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flu season is quickly approaching, and as temperatures change, allergies are beginning to bother people as well. The problem?

Doctors say many of the symptoms of the three are similar.

"They are going to have overlapping symptoms," said Dr. Erica Gettis with U of L Health. "It is going to be difficult.”

Symptoms like a sore throat, a mild cough or just feeling tired can be found in all three of these illnesses. However, it's the aggressive fever that normally separates COVID-19 and influenza from allergies.

"With allergies, you'll see a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, sinus symptoms," Norton Healthcare's Rachel Alexander said. "We don’t tend to see the high fevers or shortness of breath or a lot of coughing. That’s not to say you can’t have some of those things, but when we look at allergies, it’s some of those mild symptoms.”

Where it gets difficult is differentiating between COVID-19 and the flu. One of the biggest indicators, health care professionals say, is the loss of smell and taste, which is very common in COVID-19 patients and not those with the flu.

“If you’re unsure, rather than thinking it’s allergies and going out and about in the community, we would always want you to be evaluated,” Alexander said.

So doctors want you to get screened by your medical provider if you just don't know. They say to avoid immediately assuming you have the coronavirus after every sneeze or cough and don't rush to get tested every time, either.

Medical workers say to consult with your doctor before getting tested and see if those professionals recommend testing, because the manpower and resources for COVID-19 are still slim.

“It’s not to say you can’t get screened," Gettis said. "You just have to be cautious so we don’t overload the system."

While flu season approaches, doctors say the two tests will more than likely go hand in hand. The two look similar in terms of symptoms, and health care workers say the fight is also the same.

“The same way we’re trying to protect our communities and families from COVID-19 will be the same way we’re trying to contain the flu,” Gettis said.

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