Cold, Flu or Covid? How to tell the difference

Cold, Flu or Covid? How to tell the difference

As the cold and flu season is now beginning for the year, you may find yourself panicking that your common cold symptoms could be symptoms of Covid-19

 Unfortunately, even with a pandemic in action, nasty bugs and viruses can still be spread around. Although at first all the symptoms seem very similar this article explains how you can spot the difference between them.

 Common Cold symptoms are generally milder in comparison to flu and Covid-19. Symptoms appear gradually and although you feel unwell, you are often ok to carry on as normal. Symptoms include:

  • Mild Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Watery Eyes
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue (sometimes)
  • Headaches (sometimes)

 Cold symptoms typically last 7-10 days and go away without needing any medical treatment. Your immune system is all you need although over the counter medication such as cough syrup and throat lozenges can help whilst your body fights the cold


The Flu is a respiratory viral infection. Symptoms can be similar to that of colds but more aggressive and affect more than the nose and throat, often leaving people bed bound. Symptoms include:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Dry Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and Pains
  • Sore throat (Sometimes)
  • Runny or Blocked nose (sometimes)
  • Diarrhoea (mainly in children)

 Flu symptoms typically last 5-7 days. Treatment includes bed rest, upping your fluids and taking ibuprofen for the fever


Flu and Coronavirus symptoms can be very similar. Shortness of breath is the main difference to tell between the two viruses. The main symptoms of covid-19 include:

  • Fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • Dry Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Less common symptoms include:

  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Aches and Pains
  • Severe Headaches
  • Skin rash or discolouration of fingers/toes

 Symptoms typically appear 5-6 days from being infected but can take up to 14 days. It is possible to have Covid-19 and not display any symptoms although this is more common in younger people with better immune systems. The World Health Organisation states around 1 in 5 people with Covid-19 become seriously ill. Unlike those ill with cold or flu, those seriously ill with Covid-19 will require medical attention, with difficulty breathing been the most serve symptom. A runny nose and sneezing are an absolute sign your symptoms are not from Covid-19 but more likely a cold.

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Keep safe and well! – Team Heck!