COVID-19, Common Cold or The Flu? How to Tell the Difference
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our lives, many of us are feeling on edge, and the slightest symptom makes us wonder if we’ve contracted COVID-19.
The common cold, the flu, and COVID-19 are all respiratory illnesses caused by viruses, and some of the symptoms can be very similar. So how do you know which one you have?
Here, we will show the differences so you can know when you need to seek medical help.
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
What Causes the Common Cold, The Flu, And COVID-19
The first similarity between all these illnesses is that they are all caused by viruses.
Common Cold: The reason we call colds the common cold is that numerous viruses can cause it making it an easy illness to get.
Some of the viruses responsible for the common cold include:
- The rhinovirus
- Human parainfluenza
- Respiratory syncytial virus
- Various coronaviruses – But not the one that causes COVID-19
Viruses, including the coronaviruses responsible for the common cold, produce mild symptoms that include a stuffy nose, sore throat, and headaches.
The Flu: The influenza virus is what causes the flu. There are many variations of the influenza virus, all of which can cause seasonal viral respiratory infections in your nose, throat, and lungs.
For most, the flu causes mild to moderate symptoms that resolve themselves in two weeks or less. However, some patients can develop serious complications that result in pneumonia and possibly death.
COVID-19: The strain of coronavirus responsible for the illness, now known as COVID-19, is new. Scientists have named this new strain as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2.
The symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are much more severe, resulting in high persistent fevers, cough, trouble breathing, pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.
Comparing the Symptoms of the Common Cold, The Flu, and COVID-19
The following symptom chart can help you decide if you have a common cold, the flu, or COVID-19. This list of symptoms, however, is not definitive and should only be used as a guide. If you suspect you have COVID-19, please call your doctor or visit one of our centers as soon as possible.
Symptoms Can Range from Mild to Severe
Gradual Onset of Symptoms
Abrupt Onset of Symptoms
Shortness of Breath
Sometimes (with mild/moderate infection)
New Loss of Smell or Taste
Aches and Pains
Sometimes (especially in children)
How Can You Be Sure if Your Symptoms Are Those of COVID-19?
Because symptoms of the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19 can overlap, it can be challenging to know when you should worry, and when you shouldn’t.
If you do have COVID-19, prompt diagnosis and treatment can help lower your risk of developing complications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a COVID-19 self-checker to help you know when to seek medical attention.
If your self-assessment indicates, a doctor should examine you, call the nearest Altus Emergency Center or use our online check-in form. You will receive a free medical evaluation, and you decide when and where to get tested should you need to.
There’s No Time to Wait in an Emergency!
WHEN THERE’S NO TIME TO WASTE, TRY OUR ONLINE CHECK-IN
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