With the weather dropping and the pandemic raging, it’s more important than ever to learn the difference between COVID-19, allergies, the common cold and flu.
Winter is fast approaching and COVID-19 cases are on the rise, leaving us with an uncomfortable question when we start getting the sniffles: Do I have a cold or am I experiencing COVID symptoms?
There are a lot of similarities between a cold, the flu, COVID and even seasonal allergies, ranging from chills, body aches and coughs. That, with the added stress we’re all experiencing, is enough to make everyone paranoid.
There are 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. Colds typically last anywhere from 7 to 10 days and are accompanied by symptoms such as a 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.
Seasonal allergies are common when the weather shifts, triggering a variety of symptoms depending on the person. You can be fatigued, experience coughs, watery eyes, runny nose and even shortness of breath. During the winter, these allergies can be triggered by things located inside your house, like dust mites, animal dander and mold. Notice the moments when you experience these symptoms or pay attention to your history with allergies, since this can be the easiest way to tell what’s afflicting you.
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. Symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, aches and pains, sore throat and more.
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 a sinus congestion is very rare with COVID cases and very common with the other conditions listed above, making it one of the key distinctions between these ailments.
There’s a lot a 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.