The Key Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

September 14, 2020

Flu season is nothing new and most people are familiar with the flu as it comes around each year. This year’s flu season is unique to any other year though. The presence of COVID-19 creates an added challenge for patients and medical staff to differentiate between the two. With many similarities between the flu and COVID-19, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Luckily, there are some key differences between the two illnesses that can be used to guide patients in the right direction. 


Both the flu and COVID-19 can appear at varying levels of severity. Some people will only be moderately sick, while others will become severely ill. Fatalities can occur with both illnesses if someone because severely ill and their body is unable to fight off the infection. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms too, including:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Fever

Both illnesses can lead to pneumonia, although that tends to be more common with COVID-19 patients than flu patients.

Key Differences

The most notable difference between COVID-19 and the flu is that COVID-19 patients often report a sudden loss of taste or smell, while that does not occur in flu patients. If you have symptoms that could just be the flu, but also have a loss of taste or smell, it’s more likely that you may be suffering from COVID-19.

Getting Tested, Treated, and Vaccinated

Determining if you’re suffering from the flu or COVID-19 should not just be done at home. Visiting a local urgent care center is the best way to have a medical professional assess your symptoms and perform tests for the flu and COVID-19. Flu tests are quicker than COVID-19 tests at this time, but urgent care centers should have both available. An urgent care will also help you manage your symptoms through the use of prescription or over the counter medications and home remedies.

There isn’t a COVID-19 vaccine available to the public yet, but hopefully there will be soon! In the meantime, your local urgent care center is equipped with the flu vaccine which is over 80% effective at reducing your risk for getting the flu this year!

Lowering your risk of influenza will make it easier to identify potential COVID-19 symptoms and rule out the flu more quickly. For more information regarding testing, treatment, and vaccinations, contact your local urgent care center today! And if you need a flu shot right away then book your appointment at AFC Urgent Care West Long Branch!

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