How do I know if I have a cold, flu or COVID?

Medical assistant Leslie Powers carries swab samples collected from people for on-site processing at a COVID-19 testing site in Long Beach, California, Thursday, January 6, 2022. (AP Photo. / Jae C. Hong)

How do I know if I have a cold, flu or COVID-19?

Experts say testing is the best way to determine what disease you have because symptoms of the disease can overlap.

Viruses that cause colds, flu and COVID-19 spreads the same way – through droplets from the noses and mouths of infected people. And they can all be contagious before a person realizes they’ve been infected.

The time varies as to when a person with any illness will start to feel sick. Some people infected with coronavirus do not experience any symptoms, but they are still contagious.

Kristen Coleman, assistant professor of research at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, says cough, fever, fatigue and muscle aches are common to both the flu and COVID-19. Symptoms specific to COVID-19 include loss of taste or smell.

Meanwhile, the common cold tends to be milder with symptoms including a stuffy nose and sore throat. Fever is more common with the flu.

Despite some misrepresentations online, the viruses did not merge to create a new disease. But it is possible to catch the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which some people call “flurona.”

“Any kind of co-infection can be serious or worsen your symptoms,” says Coleman. “If flu cases continue to increase, we can expect to see more of these virus co-infections in the coming weeks or months.”

With many of the same symptoms caused by the three viruses, testing is still the best option to determine which one you may have. At-home flu tests aren’t as widely available as COVID-19 tests, but some pharmacies offer testing for both viruses at once, Coleman noted. This can help your doctor prescribe the right treatment.

Labs can also screen samples for different types of respiratory viruses, including the common cold. But most aren’t likely to do this often, especially when COVID-19 spikes, Coleman said.

Vaccination helps reduce the spread of the virus. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is safe to flu shot and COVID-19 shot or booster shot at the same time.

https://kfor.com/news/how-can-i-tell-if-i-have-a-cold-the-flu-or-covid/ How do I know if I have a cold, flu or COVID?


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