Blog Post

April 30, 2024

Flu vs. COVID-19: Which One Do I Have?

We're deep into cold and flu season, and this year, there's the added complication of COVID-19 still circulating. If you start feeling under the weather, how can you tell if it's the flu, a common cold, or COVID-19? This guide will go over the key differences in symptoms, so you can get the right diagnosis and treatment.

How the Symptoms Are Different

If you have the flu, symptoms will usually start very suddenly. Common flu symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, dry cough, sore throat, and stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are often more severe than cold symptoms. One way to tell is if your symptoms, especially fever, make you feel completely wiped out. The flu hits fast and hard. With COVID-19, the most common symptoms are fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Loss of taste and smell are also telltale signs. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 symptoms may take several days after infection to appear. Cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath tend to last longer with COVID-19 compared to the flu.

How to Treat the Flu

If you think you have the flu, it's important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Prescription antiviral drugs like Tamiflu are most effective when started within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Flu treatment like this can reduce the duration and severity. According to Healthline, in the US, the flu has resulted in 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses annually. Over-the-counter medications can also provide flu relief. Drink lots of fluids and get extra rest to support your immune system.

When to Get Tested for COVID-19

If your symptoms aren't clearly flu-like, it's a good idea to get a COVID-19 test. Testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis. Many of the same over-the-counter medications that provide flu treatment can help manage COVID-19 symptoms. There are also prescription antiviral pills specifically for COVID-19 that may speed up recovery if taken very early on. Speak to your doctor about treatment options if you test positive for COVID-19.

The flu, common cold, and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms. Pay close attention to which symptoms develop and how quickly you feel sick. Testing is the best way to know if it's COVID-19 or the flu. No matter what's causing your illness, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated! Listen to your body, so you know when to call your doctor for help feeling better. If you need a flu treatment or a COVID-19 test, turn to us at Convenient Urgent Care. Visit our urgent care center today.

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