It's called "flurona" - influenza and coronavirus at the same time.
Because flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, yes, it's possible to become infected with both at the same time.
“There is such an overlap between COVID-19, colds, flu and even allergies it can be almost impossible to distinguish between them clinically without testing,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality.
Symptoms are very similar: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache or muscle aches. Omicron variant symptoms may be similar or different than other variants of COVID and have been reported as scratchy or sore throat, nasal congestion, fatigue, dry cough and muscle pain. Loss of taste and smell is less common with Omicron.
Both COVID-19 and flu can result in serious illness and even hospitalization. If you get sick with both, it could increase your risk of having serious symptoms, Basel said.
What’s more, getting infected by one will weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to get the other.
What if I Have Flu and COVID-19?
The only way to know for sure is to get tested. After discussing symptoms with your provider, he or she will recommend if testing for both is recommended.
The 4-plex test checks for four illnesses at once: influenza A, influenza B, RSV and COVID-19. Talk to your insurance provider about coverage if this test is recommended.
Besides that, Basel said it’s important to follow the normal rules for COVID-19: stay home.
“Stop what you’re doing, do not go to work, do not go to school and isolate yourself,” Basel said.
How Do I Avoid Getting Both?
The best defense against the flu is to get a vaccine every year, Basel said. Vaccination is also the best defense for COVID-19. Wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 and the flu. COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone age 6 months older, and boosters for everyone age 5 and over.
If you have questions about respiratory viruses, talk with your regular provider.