How to tell the difference between a cold, the flu, seasonal allergies and COVID-19

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – There are a lot of similarities between a cold, the flu, seasonal allergies and the coronavirus (COVID-19). According to Intermountain Healthcare, there are ways to help you better understand the signs and symptoms.

COVID-19

When it comes to the coronavirus, some strains, like COVID-19, can cause severe illness in certain groups. The elderly and people who have underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. Drug makers are currently working to make vaccines to help prevent the virus.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tiredness (sometimes)
  • Aches and pains (sometimes)
  • Headaches (sometimes)
  • Sore throat (sometimes)

COLD

If you have a cold, the symptoms are generally mild compared to the flu. A cold can cause any or all of these symptoms:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough (mild)
  • Fatigue (sometimes)
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches (rarely)
  • Aches and pains

Most over-the-counter medications have, at best, moderate effects on cold symptoms. A typical cold will last on average 7 to 10 days.

FLU

Seasonal influenza (flu) is a common respiratory infection caused by a virus that affects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last from 5 to 7 days. Here’s are some common symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Runny or stuffy nose (sometimes)
  • Sore throat (sometimes)
  • Diarrhea (sometimes in children)

Unlike for colds or coronavirus, vaccination is a good way to prevent the flu. If you received a flu shot and still get the flu, your symptoms are generally milder than if you didn’t receive the flu shot. Most people with the flu get well without medical treatment. Stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids and treat a fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

SEASONAL ALLERGIES

If you have seasonal allergies, here’s what to look for:

  • Itchy nose, eyes, throat, sinuses, and ear canals
  • Fatigue (sometimes)
  • Cough 
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Headaches (sometimes)
  • Shortness of breath

The most common cause of allergies in the spring is pollen.

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