‘Flurona’: Explaining COVID-19 and Flu Co-Infections

Javeria Usmani

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June 29, 2022
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Flurona - flu and corona
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Have you heard the word “flurona” and think it’s a new COVID-19 variant? It isn’t. It’s when someone catches both COVID-19 (the “coronavirus”) and a flu strain at the same time. There are higher chances of contracting both of these infections during the flu season. This article will explain more, including how to protect yourself and what symptoms to look out for.

What Is Flurona?

Flurona is when you suffer from the influenza virus and coronavirus at the same time – this is called a co-infection. It is not a new COVID-19 pandemic variant. To lessen this confusion, some scientists prefer to call it Flucovid, but flurona remains the more common term.

Healthcare authorities have documented a small number of cases since the pandemic started. However, the U.S. saw a sudden rise in reported cases in January 2022. This is potentially due to lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Researchers and scientists are still documenting these co-infections. 

Symptoms of Flurona

Flurona is not common. Studies have generally found less than 1% of adults with COVID-19 also have the flu (see here, here, and here).

If you are unsure whether you have the flu or COVID-19, you can get tested for both. It remains important to regularly test for COVID-19 to restrict its spread – you can do this with a home test, as well as a PCR test administered by a medical practitioner. Testing for the flu can only be done by a medical practitioner – contact your PCP to arrange one.

However, timing the tests correctly so both viruses can be accurately detected can be tricky

Therefore, if you display COVID-19 and/or flu-like symptoms, it is best practice to stay at home and restrict interactions with others. Even if you do not have COVID-19, no one wants to catch the flu or a nasty cold from someone.

A few symptoms that may indicate co-infections are:

  • Body and headaches
  • Fever/chills 
  • Dry cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of smell and/or taste
  • Fatigue

A dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath are the most commonly observed.

You may also experience a stuffy nose and a sore throat, although these can be signs of a cold rather than the flu. Fever and fatigue are more familiar with the flu; sneezing and a stuffy nose are more common with a cold. 

Children may also experience nausea and diarrhea during the flu. They are also more likely to experience the flu/COVID-19 co-infection, with a rate of 3%. 

Is It Risky to Get Flu and COVID-19 Together?

Your immunity drops when your body is fighting a disease. Hence, you become more prone to being attacked by any other disease-causing microbes.

A sick woman lying in bed and blowing her nose

Nevertheless, flurona is unpleasant but there is little indication that this co-infection is particularly risky. 

While one laboratory study found infection with influenza A lead to worse outcomes from COVID-19 in mice, this has not been seen in the real world in humans.

People with flurona tend to be younger and without other health conditions, generally leading to a low mortality rate and usual recovery times for COVID-19. 

Still, flurona can be concerning for people who are already in higher risk groups for COVID-19 and the flu: older people, those with diabetes or have heart disease and those who suffer from chronic illness.

People already battling a chronic respiratory disorder must be wary of being attacked by flurona because it may cause severe symptoms. For this reason, when you feel ill, reach out to your healthcare provider as early as you can.

Can I Protect Myself From Flurona?

At the time of writing, there are no studies on protection from flurona accepted by the medical community. 

Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a varied diet and exercise, and continuing to wear masks and wash your hands regularly will help. A varied, healthy diet, including sufficient water, is necessary to enable your immune system to work. Exercise helps make your body fit and healthy to be better at fighting infections, too. Avoiding crowded places also helps by keeping you away from potential sources and vectors of infection.

Since anyone can be affected by the flu and COVID-19, getting vaccinated for both diseases is beneficial The CDC says that the flu and the COVID-19 vaccines can be received at the same time, and provides key facts about the seasonal flu vaccine. Always consult your doctor if you are already undergoing any other treatment.

A man with a mask

What Is the Treatment for Flurona?

Both influenza and COVID-19 are viruses. Therefore, antibiotics will have no effect. You can take antiviral medicines to reduce your flu symptoms and help you get better quickly, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). These medications can assist in decreasing the risk of developing severe symptoms from the infections

You can also take one of the new antiviral pills developed for COVID-19. Two of the authorized oral antiviral drugs for COVID-19 are molnupiravir (developed by Merck), and nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer)

You must talk with your doctor so they can prescribe these antiviral drugs – you cannot get them over-the-counter.

Other ways to treat flurona is to address the symptoms:

  • Painkillers, such as paracetamol (Tylenol), can help with aches and reduce fever
  • Improve dry coughs by gargling with salt water, drinking honeyed tea, or using essential oils in a humidifier
  • Fatigue will go away once the infection has passed – your body diverts energy to fight diseases, leaving you tired when you are ill; the best thing for it is to rest.

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