Cold vs. Flu vs. COVID-19

If you’re feeling sick this time of year, it can be hard to tell what could be causing your symptoms. Is it a cold, the flu, COVID-19 or allergies? While some of the symptoms may overlap, there are some key differences.

Seasonal allergies are immune system responses triggered by exposure to allergens and have many similar signs and symptoms to respiratory viruses. COVID-19, the flu and the common cold are all caused by viruses. Here’s a comparison chart from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to help differentiate between each seasonal bug.

Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose and sometimes a sore throat are all symptoms of allergies and could last for weeks. However, allergy symptoms don’t include fever, chills, nausea or diarrhea. If you’re experiencing those, it’s likely because of a virus.

COVID-19 and the flu cause similar symptoms, which can be hard to diagnose, and testing may be needed to determine the difference. Generally, flu symptoms have an abrupt onset. Although flu symptoms can include change in or loss of taste or smell, these are more frequently signs associated with COVID-19.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is possible to have the flu and other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 at the same time. You can reduce your risk of getting these illnesses by getting vaccinated. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated against both. Other ways to prevent illness this winter are to avoid close contact with anyone outside your household, wash your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Our experts at Plymouth Primary Care Rural Health Clinic are here to keep you healthy this winter. Whether it’s getting vaccinated, getting tested or seeking care for your symptoms, we want to help. To schedule an appointment, call 252-793-4500 or go online: