With the weather dropping and the rise of the Omicron variant, it’s more important than ever to learn the difference between COVID-19, the common cold, and the flu.
Winter is here and so is the rise of the Omicron variant. Cue the stress sweats every time you get a sniffle.
There are a lot of similarities between a cold, the flu, and COVID-19, including chills, body aches, and coughs. But there are also some key differences between these conditions that we should all learn in order to have some peace of mind.
Colds are the most common, especially once the weather starts dropping. Although they can make us feel pretty terrible, they tend to be milder than the flu and much milder than COVID. They typically last anywhere from 7 to 10 days and are accompanied by symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, cough, fatigue, and physical aches. While some medication can be taken, the majority of the symptoms that appear are your body’s way of getting rid of the infection. Most often, what works best is to give your body time to fight the cold off.
While it’s not allergy season, these can still be triggered by elements within your home, like dust mites, animal dander, and mold. If you enter a new place and start noticing symptoms like a stuffy nose or itchiness, you’re likely coping with an allergy.
At the moment, aside from COVID-19, the flu should be your biggest concern, since it produces some strong symptoms that can quickly grow complicated and require medical attention. The flu can be easily prevented by taking a flu shot. The infection affects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last from 5 to 7 days, with fever, cough, fatigue, aches and pains, sore throat, and more as symptoms.
Finally, COVID-19 is similar to all of the conditions previously listed. It can range from mild to severe, affecting older people and those who struggle with underlying health conditions more severely. Symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue dry coughs, and more. A runny nose or sinus congestion is very rare with COVID cases and very common with the conditions listed above, making it one of the key distinctions between these ailments.
There’s a lot of variability from people who’ve experienced COVID-19, with cases ranging from barely noticeable to those that require hospitalization. Among their most identifiable symptoms, there’s the loss of taste and smell, which usually appears suddenly. Lastly, if your condition is too confusing, the most definite way of knowing what’s affecting you would be to get a COVID test.