A woman deals with the flu or a cold

How To Tell a Cold, Flu, and Covid Apart

As winter rolls in and the temperature drops, cold and flu cases tend to rise. While this normally just means calling out of work or keeping the kids home from school for a few days, navigating winter illness is harder with covid.

The more we learn about covid-19, the more we see shared symptoms between covid, the flu, and the common cold. But since each illness must be treated differently, misdiagnosing can lead to dangerous outcomes.

In this article, we will examine the differences in symptoms between a cold, a flu, and covid.

Understanding the Differences: Covid vs. Flu vs. Cold

Despite having similar symptoms, it is important to note that the common cold, the flu, and covid-19 are each different viruses.

The common cold is a virus that generally causes mild symptoms. Cold cases are the leading cause of healthcare visits as well as days missed of work and school every year.

The flu, also known as influenza, is a seasonal virus that causes moderate symptoms. Flu season typically runs from October to May with peak activity occurring in December and January.

Covid-19 is a newer virus that is still currently being studied. Covid appears to be more contagious and significantly more deadly than the flu, leading many to become more cautious. That said, many covid cases are asymptomatic, and the majority of covid cases only cause mild symptoms.

Differences in Symptoms

Covid Symptoms

Several symptoms have been linked to covid-19. These generally include body aches, headaches, fatigue, and, in more severe cases, shortness of breath.

One covid symptom that stands out is the loss of taste and smell. This is something that generally does not occur in cold or flu cases. Knowing this symptom can go a long way in helping you determine if your illness is covid-19.

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms are generally quite strong. Most flu cases included moderate symptoms where cold and covid cases can often include only mild symptoms.

In most flu cases, patients experience chills, cough, fever, stuffy or runny nose, and fatigue. Flu testing is the best way to determine if symptoms are caused by influenza.

Cold Symptoms

The common cold is the illness here that people will be most familiar with. Most cold symptoms get confused with flu or allergy symptoms.

The most common cold symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, fatigue, and coughing. In most cases, these symptoms are mild.

Using Flu and Covid Testing

While understanding symptoms can be helpful, the best thing is to get a flu or covid test. This is the most accurate way to tell the difference.

At Live Urgent Care, we offer a variety of covid and flu tests. Covid testing is available at all 4 of our locations and flu testing is available at our Bellmawr urgent care center.

Winter illnesses may be on the rise, but Live Urgent Care can help you manage cold and flu season with fast, accessible testing and care.

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