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Do you wonder if you've caught COVID-19 every time you feel a tickle in your throat? It happens to the best of us. Staying mindful of our health is the most civically responsible thing we can do during a pandemic, but the downside is that we may be freaking ourselves out over what turns out to be a run-of-the-mill head cold or seasonal allergy.

As we enter flu season, there will be even more symptomatic "noise" for us to sort through. To help protect both your physical and mental health, here is an easy way to distinguish between symptoms of the flu, the common cold and COVID-19:

Make a Flu Shot Your First Step

The first thing that everyone six months and older should do as soon as possible is remove flu from the mix entirely with a flu shot. Besides keeping you safe and healthy during flu season, it also protects others from getting sick or even being hospitalized.

Finally, if someone you love has a health problem, getting a flu shot might save their life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following eight conditions are known to increase the risk of severe illness if you catch COVID-19:

  1. Cancer
  2. Chronic kidney disease
  3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) / emphysema
  4. Weakened immune system from solid organ transplant
  5. Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
  6. Serious heart conditions
  7. Sickle cell disease
  8. Type 2 diabetes

Catching the flu would weaken your loved one's immune system when they need it the most, making them more vulnerable to catching COVID-19.

Watch Out for 3 Symptoms

Once you've eliminated the flu, distinguishing between cold symptoms and potential COVID-19 symptoms becomes easier. The major red flags to watch out for are fever, loss of taste or smell, and shortness of breath.

If you are experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms, or cold symptoms that are resisting over-the-counter treatments for longer than 5 days, we recommend talking to your doctor.

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