Illinois is in phase 5, restrictions have been lifted and summer fun is underway. It’s good to feel normal again! But as we unmask and gather together, we may be swapping more than handshakes and hugs. Cold viruses are making a comeback, too. Isolation and mask-wearing allowed us to largely skip the winter cold season. Now, as we make up for lost time, those pesky viruses are spreading once again. This, coupled with a bad allergy season, has a lot of people sniffling, sneezing and coughing their way into summer. So how can you tell a summer cold from COVID? Do you need a COVID test if you become symptomatic? Should you head to urgent care? Here’s what you need to know:
We are absolutely seeing an uptick in cold-like symptoms. While similar to COVID-19 symptoms, there are some differences to watch for. For example, COVID-19 often causes coughing and shortness of breath, coupled with body aches. Summer colds tend to be more similar to allergies, with sneezing, sniffling and a cough. They are also more short-lived.
COVID-19 numbers are low right now, but there are still cases in the area. New strains, such as the Delta strain (originated in India) are causing illness in unvaccinated individuals. Determining whether you have a summer cold or COVID-19 can be tricky since symptoms are similar, but here are a few general guidelines:
If you are vaccinated, it’s most likely a summer cold. Breakthrough COVID cases are possible, however they are not common. Pay attention to your symptoms. If they are minor and more sneezing, sniffling as opposed to shortness of breath, fever, body aches, and you are vaccinated, you probably have a cold virus.
If you were exposed to COVID-19, you should take your symptoms seriously and get tested for the virus. Known exposures still warrant testing, especially if you are symptomatic. Follow the quarantine guidelines if you have no symptoms but have had a known exposure.
Do you have summer allergies? This season has been a bad one for summer allergies. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s very possible that your symptoms are related to the season. Allergies can develop into a sinus infection, so contact your primary care provider if your allergy medication is not helping or your symptoms continue.
Innovative Express Care is open seven days a week and making an appointment is easy with online scheduling. Be sure to tell our receptionist if you are having symptoms that are associated with COVID-19 when you check in. This way we can lead you directly to an exam room. We offer COVID-19 testing at our urgent care and at our dedicated COVID-19 testing site. Innovative Express Care also offers telemedicine visits, which are a great way to discuss your symptoms with a medical provider from the comfort of your own home. An in-person visit may still be required, but many illnesses can be diagnosed remotely, allowing you to get a treatment plan and medical advice without ever leaving home.
If you have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, we strongly urge you to do so. Innovative Express Care is currently offering the Pfizer vaccine for individuals age 12 and up at our Downers Grove location.