As we enter the fall and winter, common colds and the flu are expected to spread. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a third virus that can make people sick. The symptoms of these three illnesses can overlap, making it confusing to know which virus is making you sick. In this blog post, we break down the difference between influenza (flu), the common cold, and COVID-19 to identify which symptoms are most likely to occur, and how severely, for each illness.
Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Given that it is a novel virus, we are still learning about COVID-19. Based on the most recent medical and scientific data, it appears that some people can become very sick with COVID-19 and need to be hospitalized while others feel less sick. The hallmark symptoms that distinguish COVID-19 from flu and a cold are shortness of breath, loss of taste, and loss of smell. Other common symptoms include:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
The greatest difference between flu, COVID-19, and the common cold is that colds are usually mild. While there is overlap, someone affected with a cold is likely to experience the following symptoms to a lesser degree than they would if they were infected with flu or COVID-19:
As always, please contact your trusted healthcare provider with any questions about your specific symptoms.
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