What is the Difference Between Flu and COVID-19?

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Think it’s easy to tell the difference between symptoms of influenza (flu) and COVID-19? Think again. Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Some differences to keep in mind include:

  • COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu. However, as more people become fully vaccinated against COVID‑19, the CDC says the spread of the virus that causes COVID‑19 should slow down.
  • Compared to flu, COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people.
  • COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.

Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the difference between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. The CDC says testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis, especially since people can be infected with both flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19.

To read more, visit the CDC’s page on Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19, or its detailed pages on Flu Symptoms and COVID-19 Symptoms.

Be sure to also read our post Now is the Time to Catch Up on Immunizations highlighting August’s recognition as National Immunization Awareness Month.

Now is the Time to Catch Up on Immunizations

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

Thousands of people in the U.S. become severely ill and are hospitalized or even die each year because of vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have saved lives from polio, measles, mumps, rubella, flu and now COVID-19. At times, vaccines have helped to remove disease from areas that have high vaccination rates.

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States. However, in December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,276 cases in 31 states. So how did measles make a comeback?

Most cases where vaccine-preventable disease re-emerges involve unvaccinated people. It’s also important to remember that measles and other diseases are still common in other countries. This makes it easy for unvaccinated travelers to become infected with preventable disease and bring it back to the U.S. And as the number of unvaccinated people increases, the virus is more likely to spread to others and cause infections.

“Immunizations play such an important role in protecting our health as well as the health of our loved ones and communities,” says Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director at Regence. “National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to highlight the value of getting recommended vaccines. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious vaccine preventable diseases like measles, the fluwhooping coughhepatitis, and cancers caused by HPV.”

Vaccines aren’t just for young children. Adults also need vaccines to protect against different types of pneumonia and shingles. And adults with certain health conditions like diabetes are more susceptible to severe complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. By getting recommended vaccines during pregnancy, women can give their babies and themselves the best protection against whooping cough and the flu.

Specific immunizations are recommended for young adults and teens entering middle school and college, anyone who may be traveling abroad, and those with underlying health conditions. The CDC provides immunization schedules for all age groups on their website.

If you have school-age children, Oliveira recommends scheduling an appointment for their vaccinations as soon as possible to ensure they get all their recommended doses before school starts. “This is the month where we see the biggest delay in being able to schedule an appointment,” says Oliveira. “We encourage everyone, including adults that may not be aware they need vaccines, to have a conversation with their health care provider now to ensure they’re up to date on all routine vaccines”

Regence health plans cover most immunizations at 100% when members use an in-network provider. ALLtech members enrolled in Regence BlueShield can use the online Find a Doctor tool at regence.com to find a doctor or clinic. Be sure to sign in to your account so results are based on your benefits.

ALLtech Offers Resources for BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

In honor of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month this July, ALLtech is offering valuable resources to members with access to the employee assistance program through Wellspring EAP. Login at wellspringeap.org to access a curated list of resources specific to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) mental health awareness, or click the below links to attend unique live webinars and restorative micro-sessions.

These live events will be available on-demand 24 to 48 hours after the live session.

Webinar: BIPOC Mental Health Awareness

Wednesday, July 28, 2021
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (PST)
Register to Attend

Explore how anxiety, depression, stress, and trauma impact the BIPOC community in this webinar and learning conversation.

Facilitated by Sauntia Griffin, LSWAIC, MSW, M.Ed., an educator and mental health therapist, you’ll learn about common emotional and physiological experiences, and strategies and coping tools to implement for self-care.

This session will best support those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), allies, and those who would like to deepen their understanding.

Live Guided Restorative Micro-Sessions

Click on the title to attend these 15-minute guided restorative micro-sessions:

About Wellspring’s Trainers

  • Sauntia Griffin, LSWAIC, MSW, M.Ed.
    Sauntia Griffin was born and raised in the Central District of Seattle, where she lives and practices therapy with teens and adults. Sauntia operates under a critically conscious, anti-oppressive framework, her goal being to provide a space that allows individuals to work through and grow into who they want to be. Sauntia earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work, a Master’s in Education, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Seattle University. She has practiced with Atlantic Street Center, Northwest Kidney Centers, as well as in private practice. She has been trained in trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and a variety of techniques for evidence-based practice — regularly drawing from mindfulness and Gestalt approaches.
  • Summer Brown, LMFT
    Summer Brown self-identifies as a Black, Queer, Fat, Cis Woman. Summer is a Sex and Fat Positive, Social Equity Minded, Solution Focused, CBT, EMDR and Feminist Narrative therapist. She provides support for individuals throughout the lifespan, partnerships of any relationship style as well as family systems work. Summer prioritizes providing affirming, inclusive, client-directed, culturally competent care for marginalized communities (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other folks who hold systemically non-dominant identities). She provides AAMFT supervision as the Clinical Director of Therapeutic Change PLLC, group practice in Vancouver, Wash. Summer has taught at the Community College and graduate school levels with a focus on self-discovery and counseling skills development.
  • Kaylee Torres, MCFT Intern
    Kayle Torres is pursuing her Master’s in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy at Lewis and Clark College. She identifies as a queer, Asian and Pacific Islander, neurodiverse, femme person who is temporarily able-bodied and currently exists in a mid-size body. She provides individual, family, and relational therapy to teens and adults who identify as LGBTQIA+, Gender Diverse, all ethnicities, all body sizes, types and abilities. She approaches her work from a relational and ecosystemic lens, meaning she acknowledges that we exist in relation to other people and beings, as well as the land we occupy, and our daily life is impacted by larger systems including systems of oppression. She draw from Systems Theory, Intersectional and Feminist perspectives, Emotionally Focused Therapy and Attachment Theory, Internal Family Systems and an Intergenerational framework in her therapeutic work with clients.
Young people holding spark.ers

Protect Your Eyes this Fourth of July

From ALLtech vision care provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July, from parades and barbecues to fireworks. If you plan on spending the day outdoors, don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun with a pair of quality sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, because even your eyes can get sunburnt.

After the sun goes down, it’s still important to be vigilant about eye safety, especially if you are handling fireworks. Each year, the month surrounding the Fourth of July has a spike in the number of injuries caused by fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, last year 19% of those injuries were to the eyes. Yikes!

To learn more about the risks associated with fireworks and how to protect you and your loved ones, please click this link to view the entire post from our partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

 

Live Restorative Sessions Among Resources for Mental Health Awareness Month

Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals who took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health.

This May, as ALLtech continues to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, we would like to highlight our robust employee assistance program through Wellspring EAP, which includes one-on-one meetings with a counselor and an extensive online platform, featuring stress-reduction webinars and videos, legal and financial resources and more.

Specifically for Mental Health Awareness Month, Wellspring is offering a series of guided restorative sessions focused on self-care and more, including the following webinar:

Understanding and Caring for Anxiety
May 26, 2021 – 12:00 PM (PST)

There has been so much going on in our collective system that has caused our bodies and brains to be on alert. Though our anxiety can often not feel great, it can also serve as a useful guide. In this hour-long webinar, you will learn how to listen to your anxiety from a somatic lens and how to make choices that honor your nervous system when you feel anxious. You’ll leave with more understanding around how the systems we live in impact our nervous systems, why anxiety can be useful, and somatic tools to help settle and listen to anxiety.

Live Guided Restorative Micro-Sessions

Click on the title to attend these 10- to 15-minute guided restorative micro-sessions:

ALLtech Resources for Mental Health Awareness Month and Beyond

As we recognize the start of a second Mental Health Awareness Month this May in the midst of a global pandemic, ALLtech would like to draw attention to how our diverse benefits are focused on keeping your workplace healthy and well – both physically and mentally.

As our medical partner Regence* BlueShield writes in the article Bringing light to mental health: May is Mental Health Awareness Month, 1 in 5 people in the United States experiences a mental illness in a given year, and even more people have needed extra support through the stress of the pandemic.

With help from Regence and our other partners, ALLtech is able to empower members to get the care they needed, from self-guided wellness to virtual therapy. As a member of ALLtech, you have access to:

Online Behavioral Health Therapy

  • MDLive: Virtual care at $0 co-pay on most ALLtech plans includes access to a counselor or psychiatrist for confidential, convenient online therapy, available 24/7 no matter where you are by phone, secure video or via the MDLIVE app.
  • BetterHelp: Behavioral health counseling via phone, video, email or text through ALLtech’s employee assistance program, Wellspring EAP. Members also have access to Wellspring’s robust online platform and other services that are focused on reducing stress and improving members’ quality of life.

Manage Stress with Well-Being Apps

Virtual Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

  • Boulder Care, a virtual provider offering 24/7 care nationwide for treating substance use disorders.

For more information about the robust benefits available through ALLtech, contact us at alltech@advprofessionals.com or fill out our Get a Quote form.

*Asuris Northwest Health services ALLtech members in Asotin, Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties.

Woman blowing nose with flowers in background.

Relieve Your Teary, Allergy Eyes

From ALLtech vision provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

High levels of pollen, mold, dust and other irritants can make for miserable eyes! These airborne allergens may be the primary culprit of watery, itchy eyes, but relief may be closer than you think.

If allergens are making you weepy, your eyes are telling you something. “Pay attention to your eyes,” explains Amy Treski, OD, a VSP network doctor at Optique Boutique in Lawrenceville, N.J. “Itching, redness, and swelling of the eyes and eyelids, are common allergy symptoms — itching being the most uncomfortable and swelling the most persistent symptom.” For some immediate relief on days when your allergies are mild, try some do-it-yourself remedies.

DIY Remedies for Mild Cases 

  • Keep the windows shut in your car and home — especially in the early morning hours when pollination tends to occur.
  • Wear wrap-around glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Place a cold compress over your eyes to soothe discomfort.
  • Use artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to flush out any irritants.
  • Try an over-the-counter remedy like allergy eye drops, oral antihistamines, or other medication for mild allergies.

Did You Know? 

Contact lens wearers should wait at least 15 minutes after using any allergy eye drops before putting in lenses.

It’s important to note that allergy eye drops can offer immediate relief, but with long-term use, they can weaken blood vessels in your eyes and make your eyes redder.

What to Do for Severe Allergies 

Prescription drops may be the answer if you suffer from allergies with persistent, moderate to severe symptoms. “There are prescription medications that have a dual action of a mast cell stabilizer and an antihistamine — this blocks the effect of allergens and quickly relieves itching to offer long-lasting relief,” says Dr. Treski.

Dr. Treski suggests visiting your VSP network doctor if allergy symptoms are prolonged or get worse. Your doctor will be able to determine if what you’re experiencing is caused by seasonal allergies or other irritants.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

Video: How Virtual Behavioral Health Visits Work for ALLtech Members

ALLtech prioritizes convenient access to health care for members, with virtual care available 24/7 at $0 co-pay on most plans through MDLIVE.

In addition to treatment for a range of non-emergency conditions including cold/flu, allergies and headaches, ALLtech members also can talk to a licensed counselor or psychiatrist from their home, office or on the go, to treat issues such as stress, depression, eating disorders, grief and loss, and more.

Learn more about How Virtual Behavioral Health Visits Work for ALLtech Members and how easy it is to get care in the above video.

ALLtech offers comprehensive and affordable health and wellness benefits designed specifically to meet the needs of both employers and their employees at growing Washington tech businesses. To learn more, visit our Health Plans section or Request a Quote.

Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine? ALLtech Partner Regence Has Answers

Whether you’re in search of a COVID-19 vaccine for yourself or someone else, or just have questions about the vaccine, ALLtech’s medical underwriter at Regence Blue Shield/Asuris Northwest Health has answers.

In its article Vaccine distribution broadens to pharmacies, CDC offers locator tool, Regence has resources to help you find out whether you’re eligible, and can help you decide which vaccine is right for you.

Keep in mind that in Washington state, we have a plethora of COVID-19 vaccine resources available at our fingertips. Eligibility information is just a click away through the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Phase Finder form. Then, once you’ve determined that you’re eligible, you have the flexibility to search for an appointment through COVIDWA.com, a website created by a team of volunteer software engineers that you can read about in GeekWire.

For detailed flyers from Regence and Asuris that explain how the vaccine works, where to get it, and more, please click the below links:

Regence COVID-19 Vaccine Flyer

Regence COVID-19 Vaccine Flyer

Asuris COVID-19 Vaccine Flyer

Asuris COVID-19 Vaccine Flyer

Tips for Teaching Kids Good Oral Hygiene

From ALLtech dental provider Delta Dental of Washington.

Teaching a kid good oral hygiene is probably the last battle you want to take on at the end of a long day, especially when just getting them to bed can be a struggle. However, brushing and flossing is an extremely important part of children’s oral and overall health.

Start good habits at an early age and clean your baby’s teeth by wiping them with a soft cloth or brushing with a small soft toothbrush and water. This gets them used to establishing a tooth brushing routine. When children are around 18 months of age, they can be introduced to daily brushing by using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, and encouraged to spit, but not rinse. By age 2, or when teeth start touching, kids should be introduced to flossing. Tip: Some parents find flossing sticks much easier to start with than traditional floss.

Here are three more tips for teaching a child good brushing and flossing habits:

Tip #1: Use Visuals

Flossing and brushing doesn’t automatically make sense to kids. To demonstrate the importance of flossing and good oral health, have your child watch as you dig your teeth into some chocolate. Next, brush and floss your teeth to demonstrate how well both activities remove leftover food particles. Once they’re thoroughly intrigued, break out a toothbrush with their favorite TV character on it or a dental flosser pick (little kids find these easier to handle) and try it out on their teeth.

Tip #2: Give Rewards

As a parent, you know how well positive reinforcement works on kids. They love when something fun waits for them at the end of a task. Why not use this same idea for your children’s oral health? Create a chart and give your child a gold star each day they brush or floss. At the end of the week, reward them with a fun activity or a small toy (not candy). They’ll consider it a fun game, but you’ll know that, secretly, they’re building solid habits and learning how to take care of their smile.

Tip #3: Create Activities

Activities are a great oral health motivator for kids of all ages! All you need is play dough, a large Duplo block, and some yarn. The block represents the teeth, the play dough represents food and gunk caught between teeth, and the yarn is the floss. Use the yarn just like dental floss to show your kids how easily it removes food from teeth. This is a great visual, and kids love jamming the dough in the blocks. Plus, not only do you teach your child how to floss, but you’ve found a way to occupy her for a solid ten minutes — win, win.

If you need help finding a pediatric or family dentist visit our find a dentist tool and use the drop-down tool to select the type of dentist you’re looking for.

Sign up for MySmile to access your dental benefits, get reminders, find your ID card and access the cost estimator for treatment planning.