Cold or allergy symptoms may be COVID

Gallagher is a Certified Senior Counselor and President of Senior Concerns, a nonprofit agency serving Ventura and West Los Angeles counties. For more information, visit seniorconcerns.org or email [email protected]

Last week, my sister’s stepfather, who lives on the East Coast, was mowing his lawn. After he finished, he began to experience shortness of breath, attributing it to the grass and weeds he had stirred up while mowing.

A few days later, his wife had a runny nose, cough and muscle aches. Suspecting her symptoms, she used one of her home COVID tests provided by her insurance and tested positive for coronavirus.

Believing now that he was responsible for passing it on to her, he reviewed all the people and places he had visited in the previous days: the church meeting he had attended, his visit to see his little -daughter and her great-grandchild, and her evening spent with the neighbours.

In all, he estimated he had come into close contact with more than 30 people.

He still hasn’t taken a COVID test, as he incorrectly concluded that it had been seven days since his first symptoms and that he was past the contagious stage. He only called his granddaughter to let her know his wife, and possibly him, had COVID.

Although vaccinations and boosters have made COVID a less extreme medical experience for most of us, these lesser symptoms can mimic a cold or allergies. With more of us on the go and reconnecting with others, it’s also entirely possible that we could just catch an old-fashioned cold in the process.

In most cases, transmitting a cold to someone is not life changing, but transmitting COVID even to someone vaccinated and boosted can be.

A very healthy middle-aged friend of mine recently contracted COVID after an in-person event she attended. Even though the venue’s doors and windows were open — and she was vaccinated — her COVID case was very serious.

Besides the normal symptoms we are talking about, she had cold sores around and inside her mouth. She had terrible back spasms and her hair started falling out.

Even 10 days after exposure, she still tested positive and felt terrible. After later seeing an ear, nose and throat doctor, she was told she had two residual infections from her bout with COVID.

While her doctor thought her infections would eventually clear up, he didn’t have a timeline for her full recovery.

Personally, I’m so over COVID. It has impacted my life and the licensing rules that we have had to follow here at Senior Concerns for far too long.

I would like to forget that it exists and continue to live normally. But I realize I can’t, in part because we’re seeing another wave, albeit less deadly than the previous ones.

Over the past three weeks, a few of my staff have had to quarantine because they were exposed to someone with COVID. A week ago, we had to temporarily suspend our adult day program to ensure the safety of our participants.

As I write this, I’m sitting in our 10,000 square foot building with only three of us answering the phone. It took 25 months for COVID to get to us, even after all the masking, cleaning, 6ft distancing and protocols we had to follow.

I don’t know if the COVID that is reaching us has more to do with the reopening of the world or the contagiousness of this recent strain.

What I’m grateful for is that while a few friends I know with COVID ended up in hospital and one in intensive care, all of them have started their recovery. It is a blessing.

If there’s a caveat here, it’s that a cold or headache allergy may spread more easily than you think and may not be a cold or allergy.

Every household in the United States is now eligible to order a third round of eight additional rapid and free COVID-19 home tests. For testing, go to covidtests.gov or call (800) 232-0233.

Your family, friends and neighbors will thank you for your diligence.

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