Do I Have the Flu, Cold or Covid-19?

What is the difference between the flu, common cold and Covid-19? You may be experiencing symptoms now and want to know if you have any of these conditions. While these illnesses have similar symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. 

Covid-19 is a respiratory infection caused by a strain of coronavirus which hadn’t been seen in humans before December 2019. Influenza (flu) is another infection affecting the lungs, but it is caused influenza viruses, instead of a coronavirus. Colds on the other hand, are caused by many different viruses, including rhinovirus and coronavirus (not the same coronavirus strain that causes Covid-19). It only affects the nose and throat, not the lungs. 

Covid-19 Symptoms vs. Cold Symptoms

Some of the “classic” symptoms of Covid-19 like a high fever, loss of sense of smell or taste, are not present in common colds. But there’s evidence that the Delta and Omicron variants produce more similar symptoms to a cold, particularly for those who are already fully vaccinated. These include headache, runny nose and sore throat. 

Flu and cold symptoms are similar, but the latter are less severe. Cold symptoms also develop gradually, and lasts around 7-10 days:

  • Muscle aches
  • Sneezing
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Some people may experience:
  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Raised temperature
  • Pressure in your face and ear
  • Loss of smell and taste

Covid-19 Symptoms vs. Flu Symptoms

The flu has several symptoms that are also common in Covid-19, such as a sore throat, fever, headache, runny nose, shortness of breath and cough. However, unlike Covid-19, the flu does not cause loss or change to your sense of smell and taste.

Flu symptoms appear very suddenly, and make you feel too sick to do anything. The symptoms should go away after 5-7 days.

  • Sudden high temperature 
  • Body aches
  • Feeling exhausted or tired 
  • Dry cough
  • Headache

Occasionally you may have:

  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Covid-19 Symptoms

The latest studies show that covid-19 symptoms change over time. Currently, the three main symptoms are high temperature, continuous cough, and a loss sense of taste or smell. The Delta variant has different main symptoms including headache, sore throat and runny nose. Researchers found that symptoms may be mild if you’ve been fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 Symptoms for Fully Vaccinated

If you are fully vaccinated you are less likely to catch Covid-19. If you do get infected, you’re probably not going to be seriously ill. The top five symptoms for those who have received at least 2 doses of the covid-19 vaccine are:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Change or loss of smell

I Have Cough, Does It Mean I Have Covid-19?

A cough can be a symptom of Covid-19, so if you have a new cough you should get tested.  It’s hard to tell whether your cough is caused by Covid-19 or another infection, so getting tested is the best way to determine what infection you have.

When Do Covid-19 Symptoms Appear?

On average, it takes 3-5 days for ymptoms to show but some have reported up to 10 days.  If you have a cold or have a high fever, a new cough, or a loss of smell or smell, it’s best to get tested.

If your condition gets worse and you have severe shortness of breath, you must seek emergency treatment.

Category: Health Tips

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