Fall and winter are commonly referred to as cold and flu season, but in 2020, it’s also COVID-19 season! COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in the US since March and there’s no sign that will be slowing down anytime soon. The flu, cold, and COVID-19 all present similar symptoms and not knowing what’s causing your symptoms can be a very scary experience. Let’s discuss some of the key ways that you can tell the difference between these illnesses and put your mind at ease heading into winter.
Influenza is a virus that typically comes on very suddenly. Common symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Muscle aches
- General fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
Not every case of the flu will show all of these symptoms. The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. A flu vaccine is available to anyone over 6 months of age and is very effective at preventing the flu.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory virus. Some people may have the virus and show no symptoms, while others will have symptoms that range from mild to life threatening. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. COVID-19 displays the same symptoms as the flu, but it also comes with two different symptoms that sets COVID-19 apart from the flu. A sudden loss or taste or smell and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing are symptoms that are not seen in cases of the flu but are very common in COVID-19 cases. There is no COVID-19 vaccine available yet, but you can limit your risk of exposure through mask wearing, social distancing, and good hand hygiene.
A common cold is generally much milder than the flu and symptoms come on more gradually. Common cold symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip
It’s rare for a common cold to cause a fever, so if you develop a fever it’s more likely that you have the flu or COVID-19. Colds can generally be treated at home using over the counter cold medication, rest, and plenty of hydration.
If you are sick and need to be tested for covid-19, or to get your annual flu vaccine, contact AFC Urgent Care Saugus today! If you believe you might have COVID-19, stay home until you speak with a medical provider and determine if you need to get tested.