Your Symptom Guide: Flu, Coronavirus, or Cold?
Whether you’re sneezing, coughing, or feeling achy, sometimes it’s difficult to know what’s causing your symptoms. Is it just a pesky cold? Or could it be something more serious?
Now that COVID-19 is in our communities, sorting through symptoms can be even more confusing—and stressful. Here’s what you need to know to help set your mind at ease and get back to feeling your best.
Fighting the Flu
With similar symptoms ranging from mild to severe, it’s easy to mistake the flu for COVID-19. And while both are caused by viruses, one of the tell-tale signs of the flu is that it tends to come on suddenly:
- Onset: Symptoms develop abruptly.
- Duration: Less than two weeks.
- Symptoms: Coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, muscle or body aches, fatigue, fever or chills, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children).
- Care tips: Stay at home, rest in bed, drink a lot of fluids, and avoid interacting with other people. If you are very sick or have a high risk for flu complications, your health care provider may prescribe an antiviral medication to help ease your symptoms.
Coping with Coronavirus
Suspecting you have COVID-19 can be scary. And while there is cause for concern, remember that most cases are mild and don’t require any special treatment:
- Onset: Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- Duration: A few days to a week (for most people).
- Symptoms: Fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.
- Care tips: Contact your provider right away if you think you were exposed to the coronavirus. For those with mild symptoms, stay home in a room or area away from other people. Rest and drink a lot of fluids. See if over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like acetaminophen help you feel better.
Catching a Cold
Compared with the flu and COVID-19, the common cold usually doesn’t cause a fever and has milder symptoms:
- Onset: Symptoms tend to develop slowly.
- Duration: About seven to 10 days.
- Symptoms: Runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, slight body aches, headaches.
- Care tips: Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Taking OTC medicine can help manage your symptoms, too.
What to Do if You Get Sick
Whether it’s the flu, a cold, or COVID-19, stay home and away from others when you start to feel under the weather. If you’re worried about your symptoms, contact your health care provider and request a Virtual Visit.