Differences between COVID-19 and the Flu

The biggest question we will face this flu season is whether or not that persistent cough is from COVID or the flu. To keep you and your loved ones safe, it’s essential to recognize the most significant distinctions between the two. The best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting your annual flu vaccination. It is never too late in the year to get a flu shot, and the sooner you receive it, the less likely it is to be spread. The only way to know if you have COVID-19 is by getting tested. There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus. 

How to tell if its the flu

The flu virus is spread through an infected person coughing or sneezing within close contact with others. It can also be spread through physical contact, so it’s important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Symptoms of the flu can range from mild to severe. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever, with or without chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

Symptoms typically show up within 1 to 3 days after exposure, and you can be contagious even one day before symptoms. The biggest factor that proves it is the flu is how suddenly the symptoms appear. With the flu, it is found that symptoms show up all at once, very quickly after exposure. While the flu is more manageable, it can still cause hospitalization in those who are at high risk. It is imperative this year, more than any other year, to receive your flu vaccine. 

How to tell if its COVID-19

COVID is spread the same way as the flu – through close contact and respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. COVID is much more contagious than the flu, however, and, while less common, can have devastating effects on even healthy individuals. A majority of COVID cases are asymptomatic, which is why it is crucial to get tested soon after initial exposure or as soon as symptoms show up. Symptoms of COVID include:

  • Fever, with or without body aches
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell

Many cases of COVID are asymptomatic, but symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. Like the flu, you can become contagious one day before experiencing any symptoms, but with COVID, you can remain contagious for ten days after first experiencing symptoms or initial exposure. COVID is still contagious even if cases are asymptomatic. It is assumed that asymptomatic individuals are more likely to spread the virus because they do not know they even have it.