COVID-19 or something else?

COVID-19 or something else? - Alma Health

With the flu season beginning in September and lasting until March of each year, there is a greater focus on early symptom detection this year due to concerns about COVID-19.

In today’s blog, we will discuss some ways to distinguish between COVID-19, flu, and the common cold.


COVID-19 (short for “coronavirus disease 2019”) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a newly identified pathogen, emerging in late 2019.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory infection, and although some people don’t show any symptoms, they are still contagious.

While more is learned every day about COVID-19, there is still a lot to be known, and updates are available on the CDC website.


Flu (short for “Influenza”), is caused by influenza A, B, and C viruses.

Flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection, and has varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms.

Common cold

Common cold, or viral rhinitis, is caused by any of hundreds of different viruses.  

Common cold is an upper respiratory infection (nose and throat), and is usually mild and resolves within a week.

Comparison of symptoms of COVID-19, Flu, and the common cold

Symptoms COVID-19 Flu Common Cold
  Body Aches   Sometimes     Often   Often
  Cough   Often     Often   Often
Diarrhea/ Gastrointestinal symptoms   Sometimes   Sometimes   Rare
  Fatigue   Often     Often   Sometimes
Fever/ Chills/ Shaking     Often   Often   Rare
  Headache     Sometimes   Often   Rare
Loss of Taste or Smell     Sometimes   Never   Never
Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing   Often   Rare   Rare
  Sneezing     Rare   Rare   Often
  Sore Throat     Sometimes   Sometimes   Often
  Stuffy Nose     Rare   Sometimes   Often

Source: Yale New-Haven Health:

Since many symptoms are similar, it is hard to know for sure which illness you or a loved one may have.

Your care team at Alma Health recommends diagnostic testing, which is the only sure way to determine which infection a person has.

If you like us, become a member of our community in order to get the latest information on health and chronic disease management. We are a message away.


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