AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Respiratory illnesses throughout the area are increasing just ahead of this year’s upcoming flu season.

Coughing, runny noses, difficulty breathing and body aches are some of the most common symptoms that people dealing with illnesses face. The problem is that the only way to know the cause of individual viruses is through testing.

With the flu, COVID-19, allergies and the common cold all sharing similar symptoms, respiratory illnesses can spread more frequently due to misdiagnoses and not knowing the actual severity.

“There is a lot of respiratory disease going around right now, said Dr. Todd Bell of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.” “There’s always viruses that are circulating, especially after the start of the new school year. So people still want to be sure that they’re checking to make sure they don’t have COVID.”

The southern hemisphere saw an earlier flu season with increased numbers of the virus. Traditionally, flu trends reflected across the southern hemisphere are mirrored throughout the United States. Doctors and health officials are preparing for the upcoming flu season by recommending getting vaccines as they become available, washing your hands and staying home if you are sick.

Some viruses are more severe than others and have little to no differentiation in symptoms.

Bell continued, “It’s one of the things that I encourage people to do on when I talk to him about issues like this is that if you’re not convinced of what the cause of your symptoms are, at least test for COVID. We’ve had so many folks and even friends of mine, that were convinced that they had sinus infections, or that their allergies were kicking up. And then long behold, they had, they had COVID. And we don’t want to be spreading that to other people. Once we start seeing the flu, then that also is another thing that we don’t want flu to be spread from person to person.”

Flu shots are typically available on Oct. 1 and can be accessed at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and the health department.