Is it COVID-19 vs Flu vs Common Cold vs Allergies?
Written By: Dr. Ravneet Dhaliwal
At Night Watch Urgent Care, we attempt to put medical reasoning behind our testing and evaluation. In today’s time it is difficult, since symptoms overlap and sometimes patients or parents wants to rule out COVID 19 for cold like symptoms or often schools or day cares wants it ruled out- all for fair reasons, Afterall we are in this pandemic together and everybody is trying to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus.
Since symptoms of respiratory viruses are so similar, there is confusion to differentiate between them solely based on clinical judgment. I reviewed a few evidence-based research articles which studied some differences in clinical presentations of FLU and COVID19, which are aimed at helping medical providers like us to help manage and guide our patients.
Flu symptoms come on suddenly, anywhere from 1 to 4 days afterinfection. For seasonal flu- congested cough, headache, runny nose,congested nose, vomiting muscle pain, sore throat, tearing, shortness of breathwere the most common symptoms noted.
COVID-19symptoms may appear 2-14 days (about 2 weeks) after exposure to the virus.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC (Center forDisease Control), someone exposed to COVID-19 typically develops symptoms 5-6days after being infected. For COVID 19 - dry cough, fever, muscle pain,headache, diarrhea, loss of taste and smell were more common on COVID-19. Sorethroat was not as commonly noted.
Both are respiratory viruses; hence some symptoms overlap. COVID-19 andinfluenza patients commonly share overweight/obesity as risk factor for severe infection.As previously reported, pre-existing hypertension and diabetes wereadditionally associated with a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19.
The results of the multiple research analysis do show that a greater number of general symptoms should lead to a diagnosis of influenza or common cold rather than COVID-19.
Common cold symptoms are congestion, mild cough, sore throat, sneezing low grade fever. Headache, body aches, high fevers are not so common with common colds. For seasonal allergies, sneezing, stuffy nose, coughing is present. Fever, body aches, headaches are missing.
Fortunately, we have vaccines available for Flu and COVID 19 currently,which are the best way to prevent any serious infections from these respiratoryinfections during the upcoming cold season. Testing is widely available for bothCOVID 19 and FLU and should be considered given the pandemic circumstances.