Key Differences Between the Flu, COVID-19, and a Common Cold

Learning to live in a “new normal” this year because of COVID-19 has been no small task. From school to work and even grocery shopping, nearly everything we do has been changed because of the coronavirus. The number of COVID-19 cases has continued to rise and with no vaccine available to the public yet, that won’t be changing anytime soon. As fall and winter quickly approach the COVID-19 situation is sure to become even more complicated as cold and flu cases start to occur. The cold, flu, and COVID-19 present similar symptoms and differentiating one from the other is difficult. Keep these key differences in mind if you get sick so you’ll have a better idea of what illness you’re fighting!

Flu VS COVID-19

The flu and COVID-19 are both viruses that spread quickly from one person to another. Influenza symptoms typically come on quickly. COVID-19 symptoms can occur anywhere from 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms that occur in both COVID-19 and flu cases include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Not every person who’s sick will experience all of these symptoms. There are two symptoms that are unique to COVID-19 and if you have these symptoms, you can be almost sure it’s not the flu you’re dealing with. First, a sudden loss of taste or smell. Second, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath may occur in more severe COVID-19 cases. 

Common Cold

The common cold is less serious than the flu and COVID-19, but you should still address your symptoms quickly. A cold almost never causes a fever, nausea, or vomiting, but it does usually cause:

  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Fatigue
  • Watery eyes

If you develop symptoms that could be the flu, cold, or COVID-19, stay home and contact AFC Urgent Care Aberdeen. Our staff will help evaluate your symptoms and determine what your next steps should be. AFC Urgent Care Aberdeen offers COVID-19 testing, flu testing, and treatment options 7 days a week. You can also stop in anytime to get your flu shot and lower your risk of getting sick this winter! Until you know for sure what illness you’re dealing with, avoiding people is the safest option to ensure you don’t spread a virus.