General, Research, Technology

How to distinguish coronavirus from flu and colds?

Winter is rapidly approaching, which meansthe prevention of viral diseases is becoming a top priority, because despite the Covid-19 pandemic, common colds and flu are still with us. The question arises - can we face a “tweendemia” - a difficult flu season combined with an ongoing pandemic? Such a development of events would mean an even greater burden on the health care system, which is already having a hard time. At the same time, the researchers note that no one knows how viruses will behave. Viruses can mix, or they can somehow neutralize each other. It remains to be hoped that the measures we are taking to avoid contracting a new coronavirus infection will be effective against flu and colds viruses. But if you are suddenly "lucky" to get sick, then how to recognize what exactly? Learn how to tell the difference between the coronavirus and the common cold and flu in this article.

Flu, cold and coronavirus symptoms seem to make diagnosis difficult


  • 1 How to distinguish coronavirus from flu and cold?
    • 1.1 Influenza
    • 1.2 How is coronavirus similar to influenza?
    • 1.3 Colds
  • 2 What if you get sick?

How to distinguish coronavirus from flu and colds?

An August 2020 study by scientists at the University of Southern California found a clear order of symptoms among COVID-19 patients: in the majority of those infected, the disease begins with a rise in temperature followed by a cough. But for seasonal flu, everything is, as a rule, the other way around and the cough develops until the body temperature rises.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Controldiseases (CDC), if you get the common cold, it will most likely start with a sore throat as the first symptom. But the picture does not always look exactly like that and it is not so easy to understand what exactly is happening with the body. Well, let's try to clarify and analyze in detail the symptoms of each of the possible diseases.


Despite the fact that Covid-19 has not left the firstFor almost a year now, influenza is also a serious illness that can lead to serious complications or even death. As noted on the Rospotrebnadzor website, influenza and other acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI) are in first place in terms of the number of sick people.

Influenza A H1N1 virus in person

The flu is known to spread mainlyairborne droplets when we speak, sing, cough or sneeze. In addition, a person can get the flu by touching the same surface as an infected person, shaking hands, or using the same utensil, such as a cup or glass.

Most people who get the flu symptoms develop within four days of infection and usually go away within two weeks. Unlike COVID-19, the flu vaccine is available today, so the best way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot and wash your hands properly.

Read also: A new strain of swine flu has been identified in China. Is the world threatening a new pandemic?

How is coronavirus similar to influenza?

The coronavirus family has over 40various viruses that are spread by airborne droplets. Four of these viruses are similar to the common cold in terms of symptoms and severity. The new coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, is a potentially deadly virus that can lead to COVID-19.

    COVID-19 and the flu have many symptoms in common, including:</ p>
  • Increased body temperature
  • Pain in muscles and body
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Differences between influenza and COVID-19 may includea variety of other symptoms, including loss or change in taste and smell, skin reactions, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after infection. The consequences of COVID-19 can last from a few days to several months.


    The common cold can make you feel miserable, but compared to the new coronavirus and the flu, symptoms are usually mild and may include:</ p>
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

A common cold is not so dangerous, but sinceimmunity of any person weakens during the year, you can get the same cold several times a year. Symptoms usually last seven to 10 days while the immune system fights the virus.

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What if you are sick?

If you feel sick, be it the flu,COVID-19 or the common cold, it is important to pay attention to the worsening of symptoms, especially if you are in a high-risk group (the elderly, people with chronic and underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women). If you are worried about mild illness and flu-like symptoms, get a remedy for a runny nose and sore throat at the pharmacy and lie down at home for at least 10 days, or better call a doctor.

The doctor will help you make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the necessary tests

It is important to understand that if you have anysymptoms, you must assume it is a coronavirus even if the test is negative. Recently, my colleague Alexander Bogdanov told in detail how tests for Covid-19 work, I recommend reading it.

But even if you have a common cold, this is notmeans that you can run to the store or to work - and colds and flu and SARS-CoV-2 are spread by airborne droplets and remain on surfaces, and you are unlikely to want to infect other people. Experts remind that as with most health-related cases, the best thing to do is to prevent infection. And we recall the best way to do this:
wear a mask, wash your hands thoroughly, and maintain a safe distance between yourself and other people. Be healthy!