It is possible to have both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. The popular press has adopted the phrase “Flurona” to describe this. However, scientists and physicians do not use the term “Flurona.”

Coronavirus data

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.

Was this helpful?

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a newer disease, so scientists are still attempting to understand more about it. Scientists do not yet know the rate of occurrence.

This article reviews what Flurona is, comparisons between flu and COVID-19, and more.

A girl testing for fluronaShare on Pinterest
ti-ja/Getty Images

“Flurona” is a term that some people use to describe having influenza (flu) and COVID-19 at the same time. However, medical professionals do not use this term.

While it is not very common, a person can have influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.

COVID-19 and influenza are both viral diseases that affect the respiratory system.

COVID-19 and flu have similar symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms for both conditions can range from asymptomatic to severe. For this reason, it is hard to know the underlying cause based on the symptoms alone.

In the case of either illness, at least 1 day may pass between the time a person contracts the virus and the start of symptoms. A person can also spread either virus before becoming symptomatic.

The symptoms of both flu and COVID-19 include:

Different viruses cause COVID-19 and flu, but the two conditions have several similarities, including their symptoms.

Some other similarities are:

  • Risk of severe infection: Pregnant people, older individuals, and those with preexisting conditions have a higher chance of experiencing severe effects from both conditions.
  • Complications: Both conditions can cause potentially serious or fatal complications, including pneumonia; worsening chronic conditions, heart attack; stroke; respiratory failure; inflammation in the heart, brain, or muscles; multiple organ failure; acute respiratory distress syndrome; or secondary infections.
  • Transmission: The influenza virus and the SARS-CoV-2 virus are both airborne. They attach to particles propelled into the air through talking, sneezing, or coughing. A person may spread either virus at least 1 day before their symptoms appear. Both viruses can also spread if particles land on a surface, such as a door handle or table, and a person who touches the surface then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes.
  • Treatment: Both conditions may require specialized treatments in a hospital setting, particularly for complications or underlying health conditions.
  • Vaccinations: Vaccinations are available for both flu and COVID-19.

While flu and COVID-19 have many similarities, they also have distinct differences.

The following are some common differences between the two conditions:

  • Risk of severe illness: According to the CDC, COVID-19 is more likely than flu to cause severe illness that can result in hospitalization or death, even in younger, generally healthy people. It also presents the possibility of post-COVID-19 infections or multisystem inflammatory syndrome, whereas flu does not.
  • Complications: People who have flu have a higher rate of developing secondary bacterial infections than those who have COVID-19. However, people with COVID-19 have a chance of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome, blood clots, and post-COVID-19 conditions.
  • Transmission rate: COVID-19 is more contagious than flu and has links to superspreader events that contribute to rapid increases in the number of people who have contracted the virus.
  • Treatment: Doctors have several approved antiviral medications to treat flu at home and in the hospital. COVID-19 has emerging treatments, including approved antiviral medications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also authorized the emergency use of not-yet-approved therapies to help treat COVID-19.
  • Vaccinations: Each year, several vaccinations become available for flu, while only three approved vaccinations are available for COVID-19.

According to a 2021 review, the reported rate of simultaneous infection with both viruses is about 0.4% on the American continent.

The rate is higher in Asia, at about 4.5%.

The same review notes that the exact rate worldwide is unknown because of a lack of data from some countries. Still, the review authors estimate that about 1.2% of people with COVID-19 might also have flu.

Another 2021 study notes that of more than 1,000 people with COVID-19 screened for flu, only 6 had a coinfection (0.54%). The authors conclude that, while more studies are necessary, Flurona is rare.

Nearly anyone can get both flu and COVID-19 at the same time if they come into close contact with people who have the conditions.

People who are not vaccinated for either COVID-19 or flu may have a higher risk of developing the conditions.

Similarly, people who do not take proper precautions, such as handwashing, wearing masks, avoiding sick people, or cleaning surfaces, may also have a higher risk.

Finally, people who have weakened immune systems or preexisting conditions may have a higher chance of developing both flu and COVID-19.

A person who has both flu and COVID-19 could develop complications from either condition. Some possible complications include:

  • blood clots
  • pneumonia
  • multiple organ failure, such as respiratory failure, kidney failure, or shock
  • sepsis
  • inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs)
  • post-COVID-19 conditions
  • cardiac injury (heart attack and stroke)
  • worsening of preexisting chronic medical conditions
  • multisystem inflammatory syndrome
  • secondary infections

Who is vulnerable?

Several populations have a higher risk of developing complications from flu. Many of the same groups have a generally higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.

Some of the high risk groups are:

According to the CDC, people with Native American, African American, and Latin American ethnic backgrounds have an increased risk for hospitalization with flu.

People from racial and ethnic minority groups also have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 at younger ages. Healthcare inequities may be one reason for these disparities.

Learn more about racial discrimination in healthcare.

The severity of symptoms for both flu and COVID-19 can vary greatly, which means not all people will need to seek medical treatment.

A person who experiences mild symptoms may find that using over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol and Advil, and getting a lot of rest will help them manage their symptoms.

However, if a person who develops symptoms of COVID-19 or flu is at a higher risk of complications, they should seek medical attention.

If a person seeks treatment for Flurona, a doctor must determine that the person has both conditions. Scientists have not yet established an official protocol, but a doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to treat each condition.

In severe cases, a doctor may recommend hospitalizing the person. In the hospital, the doctors will determine the best course of action to treat the person and help prevent serious complications.

It is not always possible to prevent flu or COVID-19.

However, because the two viruses spread in similar ways, certain precautions can help reduce a person’s risk of contracting either one. These include:

  • getting vaccinated for each condition
  • regularly washing hands and hard surfaces
  • wearing a mask
  • maintaining a 6-foot distance from others
  • avoiding crowded areas
  • staying away from people who are sick

People who are sick can help reduce the spread of either virus by staying home and resting as they recover.

“Flurona” is a term that some people use to describe having both flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

It can be difficult to tell the two conditions apart because they have similar symptoms. Though the exact rate of occurrence is unknown, some studies have stated that Flurona is rare.

A person should seek medical care if they experience flu-like symptoms and are part of a high risk group.

A person should also seek medical attention if they develop severe flu-like symptoms or their symptoms are not going away.

Treatment for both conditions may include over-the-counter medications, antiviral medications, or hospitalization.