By Kokou Kanley, Pharm.D
Co-author: David Kohll, Pharm.D.
If you or your loved one start experiencing symptoms this season, it could send your mind wandering in many directions. There is a higher level of anxiety, since the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic. This 2020-2021 season is unlike any other, and it is essential to know which illness you have in order to take the appropriate precautions. In this article, we will briefly discuss the similarities and differences between COVID-19, flu and strep in terms of symptoms. We will talk about point of care tests, focusing on how they work, and conclude with ways to navigate this flu season.
Influenza (Flu), COVID-19, and strep are all contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different microorganisms. COVID-19 is caused by an infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by an infection with influenza viruses. Strep is caused by the streptococcus bacterium. All 3 illnesses have many symptoms in common including fever, cough and many others.
Because some of the symptoms of these 3 diseases are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. However, the key difference between them is that COVID-19 can lead to shortness of breath and loss or change in smell or taste, while those manifestations are often not seen with flu or strep throat. Additionally, strep throat is more common in children and often presents as a mild disease. Check out the table below for a comparison between these 3 illnesses.
With that contrast between these illnesses, let’s now talk about Point of care of Tests (POC). POC tests are convenient tests that can be administered to a sick individual to determine an illness. The goal is instant availability of results in order to make immediate and informed decisions about patient care. They are really quick and can return results in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. They work similarly to a pregnancy test. POC are coated with antibodies, which are proteins that bind to part of the virus or bacterium. There is also a control, which consists of antibodies already bound to a virus or bacterium, oftentimes indicated by a red line. If a person tests positive, there would be 2 lines on the test, one for the control and the other for the result of the test. A negative test would only have one line, the control line.
If you or a loved one start showing symptoms this flu season, it is vital to figure out the cause in order to take the appropriate actions. In such a case, you have 1 of 3 options.
The first option, which is the most expensive and less convenient, is to make an appointment to be seen at your doctor’s office. This can take a couple of days, and a visit to the physician is not cheap. Besides the time lag, you could be spreading the disease to others, especially in the case of COVID-19. This option is not the most practical.
The second option, which is also expensive but more convenient, is going to an urgent care clinic. There, you can be seen quickly, and get the appropriate treatment. It is also great for controlling the spread of the disease, especially in the case of COVID-19 since you can find out quickly and isolate yourself. However, a trip to the urgent care clinic can easily cost $200 to $300, especially for someone who does not have insurance.
The third and final option, which is both cheap and convenient, is going online and making an appointment to be seen at Kohll’s Rx. Kohll’s Rx has always been at the forefront of innovation in the world of pharmacy and has once again found a way to provide a convenient, safe, and affordable way to care for their patients, even with the pandemic. They offer all 3 POC tests: COVID-19, flu and strep. You can make a same day appointment, and be seen quickly. If you are positive for the flu or strep, you do not need to call your doctor to get a prescription, our pharmacists can dispense the appropriate medications. COVID-19 testing is covered for most individuals under the CARES Act. Another advantage of this option is not having to sit in a waiting area with other sick individuals, therefore increasing the risk of spreading the disease.
In conclusion, this flu season promises to be a challenging one. However, there are many options available to help you and your loved ones navigate it. Kohll’s Rx can be a great resource. Learn more about the different POC tests we offer. For more information on seasonal illnesses and ideas on how to best deal with them, check out the CDC website.