COVID-19 and Influenza Differences: FAQ

December 9, 2021

Influenza is something that can occur at any time of the year, but peak flu season typically happens during the fall and winter. This flu season you don’t just have to worry about the flu though! COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, so how can you tell the difference?

Do They Have the Same Symptoms?

COVID-19 and the flu share many of the same symptoms. It’s important to note that not everyone who has either illness will experience all of these symptoms. Some of the shared symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fever

What Are the Key Differences?

There are two symptoms of COVID-19 that are not symptoms of the flu. If you have either of these symptoms, it’s safe to assume you likely have COVID-19. The first symptom is a sudden loss of taste or smell. Secondly, you may experience shortness of breath with COVID-19. Shortness of breath typically only occurs in serious cases, so it should be taken very seriously.

How Long Are You Contagious?

With both the flu and COVID-19 you’re contagious for about a day before symptoms begin. For asymptomatic COVID-19 sufferers, it’s hard to determine how long you’ve been contagious. The flu will run its course in 2-14 days and you will no longer be contagious. COVID-19 patients continue to be contagious while they experience symptoms. If you have COVID-19, wait for a negative test result before you assume you’re no longer contagious.

Where Can You Get Tested?

An urgent care center is the best place to go if you believe you’re suffering from influenza or COVID-19. Both tests can be done at the urgent care center quickly and easily. Rapid results are ready in as little as 15 minutes. The more reliable version of a COVID-19 test, also known as a PCR test, can take 3 to 7 days for results. If you go into an urgent care presenting symptoms, they’ll likely test for the flu and do a rapid COVID-19 test first. If both tests are negative, a PCR test will be ordered.

How Do You Treat the Flu and COVID-19?

The flu and COVID-19 both come with some uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, there’s no magic cure for either illness. An urgent care center can help you manage your symptoms using prescription medication, over the counter medication, and home remedies. The illness has to run its course in your immune system before you’ll actually recover. In the meantime, try to be patient!

Schedule an appointment online or walk-in to your local urgent care center today for all of your influenza and COVID-19 needs. Rather you’re experiencing symptoms or just looking to get vaccinated, the urgent care is the place to go!

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