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Cold, flu or COVID-19? How to figure out what’s causing your symptoms

Cold, flu or COVID-19? How to figure out what’s causing your symptoms

Health
Woman on her couch blowing her nose

Runny noses, coughs and throat tickles have taken on new meaning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because the flu, common cold and COVID-19 share many symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish the illnesses from each other.
“If you become ill, it’s natural to question whether you have COVID-19 out of concern for yourself and your loved ones,” says Dr. William Jackson Epperson, medical director of primary care for Tidelands Health and a family medicine physician at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Prince Creek. “It’s something we expect to see more of as students return to school and cold and flu season arrives.”
That’s where your relationship with a family medicine physician or pediatrician comes into play, Dr. Epperson says. As a long-term partner in your health and wellness, your primary care provider can help you promptly identify the cause of your symptoms, determine the appropriate treatment and support you as you recover. Remember to call before going to your provider’s office if you think you might be ill with COVID-19.
“Our goal is to be there for you each step of the way,” Dr. Epperson says. “When you have a question or concern, we’re here to help.”

Free testing

Tidelands Health offers multiple ways to help community members determine if they have COVID-19.
Area residents can participate in free community testing the health system offers in Horry and Georgetown counties every week through a continuing partnership with South Carolina DHEC.
Residents drive up to be tested, and results are typically available within five business days. It’s important to note the community testing events offer COVID-19 testing only — they do not include a physician evaluation.

If you have symptoms

If you are actively experiencing symptoms, it’s important to see a medical provider. You can call the Tidelands Health COVID-19 Nurse Line at 843-652-8800 or your Tidelands Health physician for screening and referral. If you do not have a primary care provider, call 1-866-TIDELANDS for assistance locating one.

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If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you’ll be scheduled for a full medical assessment and quick-turnaround COVID-19 testing, as appropriate. Most people who are tested for COVID-19 at the health system’s assessment sites typically receive results within one day. A normal physician office visit fee applies.
“At our assessment sites, we provide much more than just COVID-19 testing,” Dr. Epperson says. “You’ll benefit from the same high-quality, comprehensive care that you would experience during a traditional visit to your Tidelands Health physician’s office.
“We can discuss your symptoms, evaluate your health, evaluate you for COVID-19, examine you for other illnesses and conditions beyond COVID-19, provide treatment and offer personalized advice.”

Limit the spread

Even if you are suffering from the cold or flu rather than COVID-19, it is still important to limit your contact with others and avoid going to work or school. Individuals with COVID-19 need to follow the isolation guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your physician or other qualified care provider can provide individualized guidance about when it’s safe to be around others and documentation that you are no longer contagious.

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