Similarities and Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

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Fall is approaching which means flu season is also. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have heard that the coronavirus is similar to the flu.2 Both are contagious respiratory illnesses, but there are some key differences between the two.3

 Similarities Between COVID-19 and the Flu

For both COVID-19 and the flu, one or more days can pass between when a person becomes infected and when he or she starts to experience symptoms.1 Both of these viruses can spread in similar ways. They spread through respiratory droplets or aerosols released while talking, sneezing, or walking.2 COVID-19 and the flu have many signs and symptoms including:2

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or body ached

The signs and symptoms for these viruses can range from no symptoms to mild or severe.2 COVID-19 and the flu can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, organ failure, heart attacks or stroke.2

Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

A few key differences between COVID-19 and the flu are:

  • While with COVID-19, you may experience symptoms two to 14 days after exposure, flu symptoms normally appear about one to four days after exposure.2
  • Severe illnesses are more frequent with COVID-19.2
  • A person with COVID-19 is contagious for a longer time than if they had the flu.1
  • COVID-19 is generally more contagious than flu viruses.1
  • COVID-19 illnesses resulting in hospitalization and death can occur even in healthy people.1

How may COVID-19 affect this year’s flu season?

During this year’s flu season, it is possible that the viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu may spread at the same time.2 There are a few steps that you can take to reduce your risk of infection from both viruses:

  • Getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccine
  • Avoid close contact with anyone outside your household2
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds2
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze2
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth2

How can Tria help?

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Many of our patients are at a higher risk for serious illness with COVID-19 and the flu. Our pharmacists have been actively educating engaged patients on risk factors and the importance of prevention techniques. We are committed to assisting members with any questions they may have about their medications, risk factors or ways they can mitigate their risk. 

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19​ | CDC
  2. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vs. flu: Similarities and differences – Mayo Clinic
  3. Similarities and Differences Between Flu and COVID-19 | University of Utah Health

How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

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Allergens such dust, mold or pollen can make indoor spaces uncomfortable. Whether you have allergies year-round or only experience them during a certain season, there are steps you can take to reduce allergens in your home!

Allergy Symptoms

Common allergy symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, rash or hives. More serious symptoms include swelling in the mouth or throat and trouble breathing.2

Bedroom

  • Bedding: Use dust-mite proof covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs. At least once a week, wash pillowcases, blankets and sheets.1
  • Flooring: Limit the number of rugs in your home and wash any that are washable.1 If you have carpet, it is important to shampoo it frequently.
  • Air filtration: Using an air filter can aid against allergens. Make sure that it is a certified asthma and allergy friendly filter. Try choosing an air filter that has a small particle or high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA).1 

Living Room

  • Windows: Rely on air conditioning only during pollen season and close your windows. Clean any mold and condensation from window frames and sills.1
  • Curtains: Use washable curtains made of cotton or synthetic fabric.1
  • Fireplaces: Avoid use of wood-burning fireplaces or stoves because smoke and gases can worsen respiratory allergies.1

Kitchen

  • Stove: Utilizing a vented exhaust fan to remove cooking fumes and moisture can help reduce allergens.1
  • Sink: To remove mold and food debris, thoroughly scrub sink and faucets.1
  • Cabinets and counter: Check under-sink cabinets for any plumbing leaks and clean counters with detergent and water.1

Bathroom

  • Shower and tub: If there is any mold in or around the tub, scrub it with bleach. Clean or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.1
  • Toilet and sink: Repair any leaks and scrub mold from the plumbing fixtures.1

There are a few other ways you can minimize your exposure to allergens. When coming in from outside, remove your shoes and change clothing to rid of any allergens you may bring into the home. Additionally, shower before bed to remove any possible triggers such as tree, weeds, pollen, grass, or dander.

Tria Health Can Answer Your Medication Questions

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for allergies, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Allergy-proof your home – Mayo Clinic
  2. Allergies and Allergic Reactions | AAFA.org | AAFA | Allergies

National Immunization Awareness Month

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National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is a campaign held each August to raise awareness on the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.1 It is especially important for patients with chronic health conditions to be up to date on recommended vaccinations, since they are at increased risk for complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases.8

Importance and Safety of Immunizations

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines immunization as a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination.2 Immunizations save lives as they offer protection against numerous diseases. Without vaccines, people with weakened immune systems are more at risk.4

If you are concerned about the safety of vaccinations, know that they are thoroughly tested before being released to the public.4 Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.5 The CDC tracks the safety of vaccinations through The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS was created in 1990 to detect any potential safety issues with U.S. vaccines. If anyone experiences problems after an immunization, they can submit a report to VAERS. This monitoring system makes it possible to spot any unusual side effects from vaccinations as well as identify any risks for health issues related to vaccinations. If you are ever concerned about the safety of immunizations, you can have peace of mind knowing they are constantly being monitored.6

Adult and Childhood Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Below are some serious adult and childhood diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations.2

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Mumps

To discover more vaccine preventable diseases, check out: Diseases and the Vaccines That Prevent Them | CDC.

Effectiveness of Vaccinations

Facts and figures that show the effectiveness of vaccinations:

  • According to the World Health Organization, immunizations prevent 2-3 million deaths every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.7
  • It is estimated that vaccinations prevented 26 million cases of childhood disease in the U.S. in the past decade.7
  • The flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%.5

What Vaccinations Do I Need?

The CDC produced a vaccination schedule for all to follow (the recommended schedule can be found here). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your vaccination history or what vaccine requirements you have.

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations.3 They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. National Immunization Awareness Month (aap.org)
  2. Immunization Basics | CDC
  3. Adult Vaccination Rates Are Rising but Fall Short (pharmacytimes.com)
  4. Five important reasons to vaccinate your child – APIC
  5. Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work? | CDC
  6. VAERS | Vaccine Safety | CDC
  7. VOM-Vaccines-Global-JUN2019.PDF (pfizer.com)
  8. NIAM Key Messages: Communicating with Parents and Patients | CDC

Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness

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Are you prepared to handle the heat this summer? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines extreme heat as summertime temperatures that are much hotter and humid than average. As a result, heat-related illnesses occur. Stay safe this summer by knowing how to prevent, recognize and cope with heat-related illnesses.1

What is Heat-Related Illness?

Heat-related illnesses happen when a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down.1 Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness:1

  • High levels of humidity
  • Obesity
  • Prescription drug use
  • Dehydration
  • Poor circulation

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Know the signs and symptoms to protect you or a loved one:

  1. Heat Stroke: This is the most serious heat-related illness. When it occurs, the body temperature can rise to 105°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.2
    • What to look for: Body temperature of 103°F or higher, hot or damp skin, nausea, confusion and passing out.1
    • What to do: Call 911 immediately, do not give the person anything to drink, help lower body temperature with a cool bath or cloths.1
  2. Heat Exhaustion: This happens after the body loses an excessive amount of water and salt, typically through excessive sweating.2
    • What to look for: Cold and pale skin, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache and weakness.1
    • What to do: Move to a cool place, loosen your clothes, sip water. Get medical help if you are throwing up or your symptoms last longer than an hour.1
  3. Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are caused by sweating that depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels.2
    • What to look for: Muscle spasms, muscle pain and heavy sweating during intense exercise.1
    • What to do: Stop any physical activity and drink water. Seek medical help if cramps last longer than an hour or if you have heart problems.2
  4. Heat Rash: Heat rash is a skin irritation from excessive sweating during hot weather.1
    • What to look for: Red clusters of small blisters on the skin.1
    • What to do: Stay in a cool, dry place and use baby powder to soothe the rash.1

For more information on heat-related illnesses check out this infographic.

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Here are three things to remember to help prevent heat-related illnesses:

  1. Stay Cool: Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. Additionally, try and limit your outdoor activity when it is extremely hot outside.3
  2. Stay Hydrated: Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink something. Even if you are not active, drink plenty of fluids.3
  3. Stay Informed: Check out your local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.html
  2. Heat Stress Related Illness | NIOSH | CDC
  3. Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness | Natural Disasters and Severe Weather | CDC

UV Safety Awareness Month

Image Source: Ethan Roberson/Unsplash

Do you know the risks associated with too much sun exposure? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide. In honor of UV Safety Awareness Month, learn more about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.

UV Rays

The sun produces ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can lead to sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancer. There are two types of rays that can damage the DNA in your skin cells and lead to cancer.

  1. UVB rays: These rays cause sunburn and play a key role in developing skin cancer. A sunscreen’s sun protection factor (SPF) number refers to the amount of UVB protection it provides.2 UVB rays have short wavelengths that reach the outer layer of your skin.1
  2. UVA rays: These rays cause skin damage that leads to skin aging and wrinkles. When choosing sunscreen, look for the words “broad spectrum” on the product label. This means that the product has ingredients that can protect you from UVA and UVB rays.2 UVA rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin.1

Minimize Your Risk

If you want to minimize the risk that comes with sun exposure, follow these tips:

  • Cover Up: Clothing like wide brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses for eye protection, can partly shield your skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure.1
  • Shade: Try and stay in the shade when the sun’s glare is most intense at midday. It is important to remember that even on cloudy days the sun can still damage your skin.1
  • Sunscreen: Make sure that you choose the right sunscreen.1 The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Amount of Sunscreen: Apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. If you are swimming, you should apply more often even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
  • Avoid Tanning Beds: Lamps in tanning beds emit harmful UV rays that can cause skin cell damage.3

Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics

For general facts about skin cancer and tips for protecting your skin, check out this infographic on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website.

  • At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.4
  • More than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the United States.4
  • In the United States, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined.
  • Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.4 Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer.5

Sources:

  1. UV Safety Awareness Month – Quality of Care (va.gov)
  2. Ask the Expert: Does a High SPF Protect My Skin Better? – The Skin Cancer Foundation
  3. Summer Tips for UV Safety Awareness in July – Affiliated Dermatology (affderm.com)
  4. Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics – The Skin Cancer Foundation
  5. Melanoma – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic