How To Tell The Difference Between Flu, Cold, and COVID-19

How To Tell The Difference Between Flu, Cold, and COVID-19

Have you been feeling under the weather lately? The cold weather can cause people to feel a bit sick, but how do you determine if it’s the common cold, flu, or symptoms of COVID-19? All three share similar symptoms, which makes it challenging to find out which one you have. 

To help diffuse the confusion, CNN shared a helpful guide on how people can better assess what ailment they have. To start off, Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, attending physician at Children’s National Hospital laid out that COVID-19 infections may look like the flu or a cold. 

“Short of getting a test, I would say it’s really tricky to distinguish right now,” Combs said. “We need to just treat cold-ish symptoms in pretty much the same bucket” as COVID-19.

On Symptoms 

Epidemiologist and former Detroit Health Department executive director, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said that all three health ailments tend to be similar. As per the CDC, both the flu and COVID-19 cause symptoms, including the following:

  • 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

However, what makes COVID-19 unique is the headache and dry cough that often go along with it. El-Sayed also explained that loss of taste and smell has been the biggest warning of a COVID-19 infection for people. On the other hand, it is less prevalent now than it has been with other variants.

“For people who are feeling serious chest pain, particularly with a dry cough that has gotten worse, that’s when you really ought to seek medical attention,” he warned.

Another thing you should be concerned about is exposure. “If you are starting to feel any of these symptoms, it’s worth asking: Has anybody with whom I’ve come into contact been infected with Covid? It’s also worth isolating and taking a rapid test,” he advised.

COVID 19 Testing

Take Covid testing once you’ve shown some symptoms, you should take a test. If you are exposed but aren’t feeling symptoms, there is a possibility that the virus hasn’t developed enough to show up on a rapid test, he explained. In those cases, it is best to wait five days after exposure before testing and to remain on the lookout, according to the CDC.

As you wait for the test result, it’s best that you isolate yourself in order to avoid preventing spreading whatever disease you may have. Let’s just hope it’s not COVID-19, but if it is, you should tell authorities immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.

Art Daniella Sison

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