The term “flurona” has been floating around in recent weeks, with doctors saying that it is possible to be infected with both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, and two Chicago-area residents are sharing their experiences with the phenomenon.
Both residents say that the thought of having COVID and the flu at the same time never crossed their minds, but a few weeks ago both found themselves battling the viruses simultaneously.
Kirby Hodge, 33, is fully-vaccinated against COVID, and plans to get a booster shot soon, but in recent weeks, he tested positive for the flu, and then for COVID.
“They were like ‘you just tested positive for the flu, and now you have COVID,’” he recalled. “I had night sweats, the chills and fever.”
Get Chicago local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Chicago newsletters.
Hodge said that he was left exhausted and weak while battling the illnesses.
“My body was drained,” he said. “There were days I could not get out of bed because I was so exhausted.”
Fellow west suburban resident Sydney Gatrost is also vaccinated against COVID, and she says she first started experiencing symptoms in late December.
“I was running a 103-degree fever. I just felt like I could not breathe,” she said. “I had a cough and congestion.”
She said that she tested positive for both illnesses in quick succession, something that surprised medical professionals that were treating her.
“They were all like ‘this is weird. You are the first person to test positive for both of those,’” she recalled.
Gatrost got so sick that she was eventually taken to an area hospital.
“My heartrate was around 150,” she said. “I just could not breathe.”
Doctors say that COVID-19, including the omicron variant, and the flu both have similar symptoms, including cough, headaches, stuffy nose and fever.
Physicians say that the illnesses themselves tend to be mild in younger patients, but the effects can be more severe when the patient is fighting both at the same time.
While antiviral medications for COVID are still being rolled out, and are largely being saved for patients with pre-existing conditions, antiviral flu medications can still be used for patients even if they’ve also been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Still, the best way to avoid serious illness with either disease is to get vaccinated, something that Illinois officials are recommending that residents do as flu season, and the omicron surge, continue.