CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – It’s the time of year for buying Christmas trees and wrapping gifts, but unfortunately, it’s also the season for the common cold and the flu.

After historically low numbers of these two illnesses last season, cases are on the rise.

One Lowcountry medical leader, Dr. Kenneth Perry, says cases are popping up across the Trident Health system.

“It’s the shortness of breath that’s associated with it, a cough, and it just seems to linger. We’ve seen a lot of that here,” said Dr. Perry, an emergency doctor at Trident Medical Center.

Differentiating between a common cold, the flu, and COVID-19 can be difficult as the symptoms of each overlap. They include a sore throat, fever, cough, headache, runny nose, and more.

Dr. Perry says it’s even hard for doctors to tell the difference without testing.

“It is so difficult for us to really say, and I think actually in a way, it’s getting harder,” said Dr. Perry.

Due to the low infection rate last season, people are having stronger responses to the common cold this year.

“So many people, their immune systems are just not as exposed to things, so we’re seeing immune responses even to common colds,” he said.

With this knowledge and American’s immune systems working overtime to create antibodies, Dr. Perry says if you feel sick, get tested for COVID-19 and the flu, stay home and monitor your symptoms.

He also says staying up to date on vaccines will be beneficial.

“Certainly, if you are vaccinated against influenza and you’re vaccinated against covid, the likelihood that it’s a very concerning case of either of those is extremely low,” he said.