How Do You Know If It’s Covid-19 Or The Flu?

How Do You Know If It’s Covid-19 Or The Flu?

Since Covid-19 became an international health issue, one of the most frequently asked questions is the difference between Covid-19 and the flu. Since the start of the pandemic, one of the main concerns among healthcare professionals is how the flu season can influence the spread of the Covid-19. This concern is because both diseases appear to have overlapping symptoms. And with the flu season rolling in, it has become more challenging to know which is which.

Come flu season, some people may feel symptoms that may make them worry whether they have Covid-19 or not. Although the only way to know if you have Covid-19 is by testing for it, it won’t hurt to learn more about its symptoms and how it’s similar and different from the flu.

Two Different Viruses

Aside from having symptoms that are different from one another, Covid-19 and the flu are caused by two different viruses. The flu is caused by either Influenza A or Influenza B viruses, while Covid-19 is caused by the new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

There is a vaccine available every year for influenza viruses. And getting a flu shot this year will be more than helpful since you can avoid getting the flu and keep yourself healthy during the flu season. On the other hand, SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus that our immune systems haven’t experienced before. Therefore, our bodies have no immunity against this virus. Vaccines are now available against the SARS-CoV-2, but we’re still a long way from reaching immunity worldwide.

Similarities Between Covid-19 and the Flu

Some of the symptoms that Covid-19 and the flu have in common are:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Both viruses can also cause complications such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac injury
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions
  • Multiple-organ failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Sepsis
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues
  • Secondary bacterial infections

Differences Between Covid-19 and the Flu

  • Appearance of symptoms

With flu, the typical time that symptoms develop is around 1 to 4 days after infection. On the other hand, Covid-19 takes longer. Usually, symptoms appear five days after infection. But there are some instances where the time can vary. Sometimes it can be as early as two days after infection or 14 days after infection.

  • Loss of Taste and Smell

Although some individuals with the flu may experience a loss of their sense of taste and smell, people infected with Covid-19 are 27 times more likely to experience it. The mechanism behind it is still being studied. However, one study suggests that the virus affects the function of supporting cells in the olfactory epithelium.

  • Mortality Rate

According to the WHO, Covid-19 is more deadly than the flu. With Covid-19, around 15% of cases are severe, and 5% of them are critical.

  • Complications

People infected with the flu will likely recover between two days and two weeks, while some may develop complications. People infected with Covid-19 can develop complications like blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs, or brain and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

  • Treatment

Most individuals who contract the flu do not need much medical treatment. However, there are some instances where healthcare practitioners may prescribe antiviral drugs to help the body fight the virus. These antiviral drugs may reduce the symptoms by one to two days. With Covid-19, there are no antiviral drugs approved yet to treat it. Since it’s a new virus, specialists will need more time to study it to develop effective treatments against Covid-19.

Covid-19 and the flu are both respiratory illnesses. That’s why they have plenty of symptoms in common. Since most of their symptoms are common, they can manifest differently from person to person. The only way to know whether it’s Covid-19 or the flu is through testing.

Closing Thoughts

The similarities in symptoms of Covid-19 and the flu can pose problems in determining which is which, especially during flu season. That may cause anxiety and stress on the individual and an additional burden on the healthcare system since they’ll have to diagnose more people than they usually do. 

Since it may be tricky to differentiate the two because they’re both respiratory illnesses, it’s highly advisable to get the jab once it’s available to you. That way, you increase your level of protection so you won’t be in a situation where you have to ask whether you have Covid-19 or the flu. Do you want to learn more about Covid-19 and how you can protect your workplace? WellHealth Works has been working with companies for years to help them keep their employees safe. That’s because we understand that your employees are your greatest assets. Call us now at 833-935-9355 or send us an email at to learn more.

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