Flu and COVID-19 What You Need to Know

woman with a fever

Flu and COVID-19 What You Need to Know

So, you are feeling a little under the weather, and panic starts to set in as you ask yourself, is this the flu or COVID-19? Know the difference between the Flu and COVID-19.

What should you do?

Well, luckily, you are just one swab away from knowing for sure if your symptoms are flu or COVID-19 related. At Altus Emergency Centers, we are always looking for the best way to care for the communities we serve. That is why we are now offering one simple swab test to give you results for both flu and COVID-19.

Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.

Know the Symptoms

Both flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory infections resulting in serious illness, hospitalization, and death in some unfortunate cases.

Although both diseases share similarities, they are two very different conditions. Let’s explore the similarities and differences of these diseases.

What causes them?

They are both viral infections. The influenza virus is responsible for the flu, while the new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 is the one that causes COVID-19.

virus artist rendition

Similarities and Differences


COVID-19 and the flu share many symptoms, so it’s sometimes challenging to know which is without testing.

Both diseases can cause

  • Fever/chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

However, the main differences are that COVID-19 symptoms tend to be more severe and can cause more serious illnesses in some people.

Some symptoms are specific to COVID-19, such as a change in or loss of taste or smell.

man in bed with face mask

Symptom Manifestation

Symptoms for the flu usually manifest between one to four days after exposure to the virus. The incubation period for COVID-19 is generally five days. However, symptoms can develop anytime between one and 14 days after exposure to the virus.

How Long Can Someone Spread the Virus?

Flu: A person can spread the virus one day before symptoms appear up to 7 days after.

COVID-19: An infected person can be contagious two days before symptoms, up to at least ten days with or without symptoms.

How does the Virus Spread?

Both viruses can spread from person to person or through contact with infected surfaces.

The viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the illness cough, sneeze or talk.

The main difference is how quickly the viruses spread. COVID-19 is more contagious in some populations and age groups than flu, and it can spread quicker in large gatherings.

woman coughing into her hand

What Are the Complications?

Both illnesses can produce severe illness. The most common complications of both the flu and COVID-19 include:

• Pneumonia

• Respiratory failure/ARDS

• Sepsis

• Heart attack/stroke

• Multiple-organ failure

• Worsening of chronic medical conditions

• Inflammation of the brain, heart, or muscle tissues

• Secondary bacterial infections

• DeathAdditionally, COVID-19 can cause blood clots in the lungs, heart, legs, brain, and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

man with chest pain

Should You Get a Flu Shot This Year?

The answer is yes!

Even though the flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19, it can reduce flu illness risk. And the flu vaccine does NOT increase your risk of contracting coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

If you have symptoms and are concerned, they may be related to the flu or COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to visit us and request your Swab test for flu and COVID-19.

Altus Emergency Room Baytown

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