Is it the Flu, Cold, or COVID-19?

September 16, 2020

With the dry air and the extended time indoors that winter brings, illness is prevalent this time of year. Sore throat, congestion, and fever all are things that can make us feel downright drained this time of year. It can be challenging to know which symptoms are a sign of the flu, strep throat, or just the common cold. It’s important to know the difference between these three common winter illnesses so that the correct treatment can be given. Read on to learn about the symptoms and main differences between strep throat, a cold, and the flu.

Additionally, COVID-19 symptoms and testing may be needed if you have been in contact with an infected patient and have flu-like symptoms. Below, the AFC Urgent Care Denver team will dive into details about how to assess new symptoms and stay safe this fall season:


Patients that have COVID-19 are likely experiencing flu-like symptoms because of recent contact with an infected individual, a large group gathering, or a visit/trip to a recent COVID-19 hotspot. COVID symptoms are easily confused with cold and flu symptoms, which means that a rapid COVID-19 test at any of our AFC Urgent Care Denver clinics across the city could help determine the cause of symptoms, based on recent risk factors.

Strep Throat

Perhaps the most distinctive of the three, strep throat most often comes along with a low-grade fever and a very painful sore throat. As opposed to the viral flu or the common cold, strep throat is a bacterial infection. The sore throat will worsen over time and does not improve without antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. 

Strep is not accompanied by congestion or a runny nose, one of the main differences between Strep and a cold or flu. If you suspect you have strep throat, you’ll need to visit your local urgent care center or your primary care physician to get proper treatment. If the throat is the most bothersome aspect, chances are good that it could be strep throat.


The most common flu symptoms include fever, muscle aches, congestion, and cough. The flu is similar to the common cold; however, the fever, chills, and muscle aches that accompany the flu are the main distinguishing factors that usually do not come with a cold. 

However, the congestion and sneezing that comes with the common cold are generally not as severe with the flu. Additionally, flu symptoms come on abruptly, where a cold comes on more gradually. Because the flu is viral, there is no medication that will “cure” it; the body must fight it off on its own. Plenty of fluids and rest are essential as the body fights the flu.

Common Cold

The most common and least severe of the three, the average person will catch 2-4 colds per year. The classic cold symptoms include a stuffy and runny nose, a mild sore throat, sinus congestion, and sneezing. 

Fever, body aches, and chills are relatively uncommon with a cold. Symptoms of a cold, although uncomfortable, are less severe than the flu. If the congestion and runny nose is the most bothersome aspect and there is no fever present, it is likely the common cold. Like the flu, the common cold is a viral infection that the body will fight off on its own. Hot beverages, humidifiers, and nasal sprays can help to manage cold symptoms.

Check for COVID-19 symptoms at AFC Urgent Care University Hills and Five Points 

If you need a fast and convenient location to determine your COVID-19 symptoms, then visit us at AFC Urgent Care University Hills and AFC Urgent Care Five Points! Our newest AFC Urgent Care Denver clinics provide COVID-19 testing to help our neighbors and residents get safely tested. Just visit our clinics or call ahead to learn more. 


Blog Categories


No blog categories


Recent Blogs

About Our Services:

Call (303) 692-8000 for more information about our Cherry Creek urgent care services.