Common Cold, Flu, and Coronavirus: How To Differentiate Between the Three

Updated on 1 December 2020

Difference between Cold, Flu and Coronavirus

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has put the world in a state of flux. COVID-19 is a recently discovered strain of coronavirus which causes a number of symptoms including fever, cold, and respiratory distress. The symptoms of COVID-19 could range from mild to severe depending on a number of factors such as age, immunity, and comorbid conditions of the patient. Over 55 million people across the globe have been affected since the outbreak and about 1.34 million have succumbed to the onslaught of the virus. This makes it all the more important for us to learn the difference between common cold and flu, and COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The symptoms of COVID-19 are varied and there are a number of people who do only exhibit mild symptoms. The disease, however, can become quite a challenge and cause severe respiratory distress in senior citizens and those suffering from ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer etc. Some of the most common coronavirus symptoms include –

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of smell/taste
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Body ache
  • Diarrhoea (sometimes)

Some patients infected with COVID-19 also exhibit neurological symptoms.

  • Common Cold: The common cold will often present with a gradual onset of symptoms. Persistent sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose is the most common symptom of the cold. It is not accompanied by shortness of breath and headaches or fever may present rarely. One of the tell-tale signs of a cold is watering eyes. It may or may not be accompanied by a mild cough. Sore throat and aches are common symptoms of cold. Most symptoms of common cold resolve themselves within a week.
  • Influenza: The influenza virus which causes the flu causes the sudden onset of symptoms like fever, runny nose, dry cough, and fatigue. The flu has a seasonal onset and in most cases, rest and a high intake of fluids help resolve the symptoms. It is best to avail of influenza vaccination if available in your nearby medical facility. Cardiac patients may want to learn more about the flu vaccine from a nearby institute of cardiac sciences before opting for the shot.

What to do if you exhibit symptoms?

Doctors recommend that if you exhibit any of the symptoms that indicate a COVID-19 infection, it is important to self-isolate and monitor the progression. Given that COVID-19 also leads to severe respiratory distress it may be a good idea to get tested and seek medical help. Most states have helpline numbers that can be contacted for help and if you are unwilling to go out, it may be well worth seeking an online consultation from a medical professional. Those suffering from heart ailments, diabetes, asthma, and comorbid conditions should make an appointment at one of the leading cardiac hospitals in Hyderabad such as CARE Hospitals.

It is important to remember that the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19 are all viral infections. They cannot be cured by administering antibiotics. Much of their treatment is related to managing the symptoms. It is important to seek the help of a doctor or trained medical professional from the best hospital in India if the symptoms persist or worsen.





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