Knowing The Difference Between The Common Cold, Flu, and COVID

Differentiating between the cold, flu, and COVID-19 can be difficult because of the similarity of symptoms. Get answers here.
Cold, Flu, Covid - What's the difference?

Cold, flu, and COVID-19 symptoms can be very similar, making it difficult to differentiate between them. All three are viruses that affect the respiratory system, and all three are contagious. So, how do you determine the difference?

How Can I Tell The Difference Between The Cold, Flu, and COVID?

The Common Cold Typically Doesn’t Cause A High Fever.

It’s possible to experience a slight increase in body temperature when you have a cold, but it usually doesn’t cause a high fever. On the other hand, the flu and COVID typically result in a fever, which can appear suddenly and is more common in young children. If you have the flu, you can expect the fever to last around three to four days.

You May Experience Muscle And Body Aches With The Flu and COVID.

If you are experiencing chills, body aches, headaches, and severe fatigue, you most likely have the flu or Covid-19. While you may sometimes feel run down with a cold, it’s rare to experience chills and body aches.

Runny Nose, Persistent Sneezing, And A Sore Throat Is Usually Present With A Cold.

If you are experiencing a runny nose with clear mucus, frequent sneezing, and an itchy throat, there’s a high likelihood that you have a cold. However, you may also experience a runny or congested nose and a sore throat with the flu or COVID-19.

The Flu and COVID May Cause Chest Congestion And Discomfort.

A cold often causes mucus production, resulting in a productive (phlegmy) cough. COVID-19 and flu usually cause a dry cough with mild chest pressure or tightness.

Covid-19 Is More Easily Spread Than The Flu.

According to the CDC, Covid-19 seems to be more easily spread than the flu.  However, you cannot tell the difference between the two based on symptoms alone. This means testing is really the only way to be certain of the difference. Check out their information here.

How Do You Treat The Cold, Flu, and COVID?

If your symptoms are leaning more toward the flu, you may want to see your healthcare provider for a flu test. Should you test positive for the flu, an antiviral medication may be prescribed to help lessen your symptoms and shorten the length of the flu virus.  Also, some patients with COVID-19 may benefit from antiviral medications, primarily based on any underlying health conditions.

These antiviral medications work best when prescribed within two or so days of sickness onset.  So, depending on certain variables, this may or may not be a good treatment option for you.  Most commonly, it is advised that you ‘treat the symptoms’ from home for both the flu, common cold, and COVID.

Are There Any Home Remedies For The Flu, COVID, And The Cold?

One of the most important ways to help treat the cold, flu, and COVID-19 is to rest! Get as much rest as possible to allow your body time to fight those viruses.  If you are experiencing a fever, body aches, cough, and congestion, over-the-counter medications will help reduce those symptoms, allowing your body more time to rest and recover as well.

Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Take in as much water (fluids) as you can. Staying well-hydrated can help ease your symptoms, speed up recovery, and boost immune system function.

What if my symptoms don’t go away or start to get worse?

If you have exhausted all the home remedies and nothing has helped, it may be time to see your healthcare provider.  In most cases, the common cold tends to last around ten days, the flu about two weeks.  However, some people may experience more severe symptoms, particularly with the flu and COVID. You should seek urgent medical care If you experience extremely high, persistent fevers (medication won’t bring it down), shortness of breath, extreme dizziness or weakness, or other symptoms that won’t subside.

How Can I Prevent The Cold, Flu, And COVID Virus?

That’s the most important question, as prevention is key. You can boost your immune system with proper exercise and by eating healthy food that is rich in vitamins C, D, Zinc, and Quercetin. Some yummy options are citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, tea, and red wine. Olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries are also high in quercetin and other flavonoids.

Hand washing is always important, as it is one of the best ways to avoid contracting viruses, especially the cold and flu.  Also, keeping surfaces that are touched frequently clean can help. It is also essential to stay home if you are sick or showing symptoms, not only to protect those around you but also to protect your weakened immune system during infection.

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to get your flu shot! Advanced Urgent Care & Aesthetics has flu shots available at any of our convenient locations and is ready to help you fight back during this flu season!

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