COVID, the flu or a standard chilly? This is easy methods to inform the distinction

COVID, the flu or a common cold? Here's how to tell the difference

Signs for the flu and COVID-19 can look comparable — here is what it is advisable know.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For essentially the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

If a cough, congestion, sneezing suits or scratchy throat weren’t sufficient, attempting to determine whether or not you are sick with COVID-19, a flu virus or a standard chilly is hard when so lots of the signs overlap. Whilst you by no means need to unfold germs to your family members, the intense implications of COVID-19 make it extra vital than ever to maintain your family and friends from an infection — particularly if you happen to’re round individuals in high-risk classes, like older adults, individuals with underlying well being circumstances and people with compromised immune methods.

Vaccines can be found to guard in opposition to the flu and COVID-19 (and sure, you’ll be able to get each pictures concurrently). However even in case you are absolutely vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, breakthrough circumstances can and do occur. Whereas usually these infections are much less prone to trigger hospitalization and dying, you could possibly nonetheless change into sick and contagious. 

As we head into flu season (which may very well be totally different this 12 months), now’s a very good time to grasp the variations between every sickness. We spoke with medical specialists to seek out out one of the best methods to guard your self and your family members. Plus, here is what it is advisable find out about getting the flu shot if you happen to’re vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. And here is every little thing to find out about mixing COVID-19 booster pictures, the newest on COVID-19 vaccines for youths and the antiviral COVID tablet that is within the works

What are frequent flu and COVID-19 signs? 

Many respiratory diseases begin with comparable signs, so it is arduous to find out which you will have immediately. 

It will not be simple to instantly work out whether or not you are sick with the flu or COVID-19, however listed here are some signs the 2 share.

  • Cough 
  • Fever
  • Issue respiration or shortness of breath 
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nostril or congestion
  • Headache 
  • Physique aches 

In case you really feel sick with any of those signs, it is best to isolate your self immediately. You may unfold the flu and COVID-19 sooner or later after being contaminated. However take into account that these signs could also be indicators of different viruses, such because the rhinovirus — which causes the frequent chilly — and RSV. Name your major care supplier for questions and one of the best subsequent steps. And contemplate getting examined.

Do not forget that COVID-19 is not only a respiratory sickness and can even have an effect on a variety of methods within the physique. The vary of the coronavirus’ harm remains to be within the technique of being absolutely understood.

What are the variations between flu and COVID-19 signs?

Essentially the most vital distinction is that it often takes longer for COVID-19 signs to point out up: two to 14 days for COVID-19 versus one to 4 days for the flu. 

Signs of the flu, also referred to as influenza, and COVID-19 can each result in hospitalization and dying.

Dr. David Hamer, a Boston College Faculty of Public Well being professor and doctor at Boston Medical Heart, agreed that the signs aren’t simple to distinguish immediately. However the largest COVID-19 signal that is not present in influenza is the lack of style or scent. 

“Clinically, it is going to be more durable for a person to distinguish. COVID is a bit more prone to progress to a extreme illness however actually, influenza can kill,” Hamer stated. 

Can I be contaminated with the flu and COVID-19 concurrently?

To pile on the distress, you will be contaminated with the flu and COVID-19 on the similar time. And signs for every viral an infection might look comparable. Hamer added that somebody with COVID actually might wrestle with flu signs. 

“It has been reported, nevertheless it seems that we do not have a whole lot of expertise with coinfection as a result of final 12 months once we had a very massive surge of COVID, it was the lightest flu season on document,” stated Dr. Daniel Solomon, an infectious illness physician at Brigham and Ladies’s Hospital. Coinfection expertise and analysis stem from the early days of the pandemic, so it is arduous to inform how prevalent this “twindemic” may very well be this 12 months as flu season begins. 

Somebody contaminated with each the flu and COVID-19 might have a extra extreme sickness and problems that will result in hospitalization. Supportive care can deal with COVID-19 signs and antiviral medicine can be utilized to deal with the flu. An antiviral therapy like remdesevir is more durable to get for COVID-19, and an antiviral tablet has not but been approved

COVID-19 home testing kit

A take-home COVID-19 check is one technique to begin figuring out which an infection you may need.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

What are ‘lengthy COVID’ and ‘lengthy flu’? 

Some individuals expertise longer-term COVID-19 and flu signs, generally referred to as “lengthy COVID” or “lengthy flu.” Lengthy COVID can embody shortness of breath, complications, chest pains, fatigue and different COVID-19 signs that linger for weeks or months. Lengthy flu signs can encompass a protracted cough, sore throat, physique aches and different signs lasting longer than 5 to seven days

A PLOS Medication survey discovered that lengthy COVID is extra possible than lengthy flu. People who had a extreme case of COVID-19 or had been hospitalized because of the virus had been extra prone to expertise signs longer, however most resolved throughout the first six months. 

How are you aware in case you have a standard chilly or COVID-19?

The signs of the frequent chilly are additionally just like COVID-19 and the flu. 

Like COVID-19, chances are you’ll discover signs corresponding to cough, sore throat and a runny nostril. However frequent colds often additionally include sneezing, watery eyes and post-nasal drip. Nonetheless, it might be more durable for medical doctors to diagnose immediately in case you have different signs on prime of indicators of a standard chilly. 

“If somebody is available in with a fever and a headache, it is going to be arduous for us to know if it is flu or if it is COVID. That is why a whole lot of well being care methods are shifting in the direction of testing for each flu and COVID on the similar time,” Dr. Ala Dababneh, an infectious illness physician with Mayo Clinic, stated. Docs might also check for RSV. 

Often, frequent colds resolve on their very own and do not result in additional well being problems and infrequently will be handled with over-the-counter medicine.

This is a listing of COVID-19 signs which are totally different from frequent colds:

  • Lack of style or scent 
  • Issue respiration or shortness of breath 
  • Fever 
  • Physique aches 
  • Chest pains 
  • New confusion

What’s the distinction between COVID-19, the flu and different diseases?

Solomon, the infectious illness doctor, identified that no frequent symptom may help decide what’s fallacious immediately. The easiest way to inform is to contact your physician to check for each the flu and COVID-19. The desk under exhibits the variations and symptom overlap between the diseases and their signs.

Completely different signs and diseases to be careful for

COVID-19 Flu Frequent chilly Allergic reactions
Physique aches
Runny nostril or congestion
Sore throat
Lack of style or scent 
Issue respiration

“If there’s fever, physique aches or chills that may make me extra involved about different respiratory diseases — just like the flu or COVID,” Solomon stated. Because the COVID-19 vaccine helps stop extreme signs, extra frequent indicators of a chilly can nonetheless be COVID, he added. 

Due to this, Solomon has guided his sufferers and relations to pay shut consideration to their traditional allergy signs and get a diagnostic check in the event that they discover something much less frequent. 

What’s one of the best ways to guard your self and others from COVID-19 and the flu? 

The easiest way to guard your self from the flu and COVID-19 is to get vaccinated in opposition to each viruses. Though no vaccine is 100% efficient, vaccinations may help guard in opposition to the virus and forestall extreme sickness and hospitalization.

People who find themselves pregnant and older adults ought to get vaccinated as quickly as potential as a result of COVID-19 and influenza can result in hospitalization and dying, stated Hamer, the Boston College professor. He additionally predicts extra COVID-19 booster pictures will probably be given within the coming months to cut back transmission of COVID-19 over the winter. 

Consultants counsel that your native COVID-19 transmission stage ought to information your plans for the vacation season. He extremely recommends outside gatherings and getting all visitors vaccinated. 

And folks ought to contemplate antigen testing as one other stage of safety, particularly if you happen to’re planning a gathering — whether or not they’re exhibiting signs or not. 

In case you’re ever not sure about your signs or sickness, it is best to get examined. Keep in mind to observe different well-known hygiene ideas, like washing your arms usually, disinfecting often touched surfaces and staying residence if you happen to’re not feeling properly. 

What are different frequent diseases just like COVID-19 and the flu?

When you’ve got a cough, sore throat or different respiratory sickness signs, it will not be COVID-19, the flu or a chilly. There are different frequent diseases with comparable signs.

  • Sinus infections 
  • Strep throat 
  • Bronchiolitis 
  • Bronchial asthma 

In case you examined detrimental for COVID-19 and the flu, it is best to seek the advice of together with your major care supplier. Some medical doctors will conduct a respiratory pathogens panel to find out what virus or micro organism is inflicting you to really feel sick. 

Listed below are the flu shot unwanted side effects to find out about this 12 months and the newest on the COVID tablet. And here is the newest on the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employers with over 100 staff, federal staff and different teams.

CNET contributor Mercy Livingston contributed to this text.

The knowledge contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. All the time seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you will have a couple of medical situation or well being targets.

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