If the coronavirus wasn’t enough, it’s also cold and flu season. AND…if that wasn’t enough, we are also going into allergy season (it’s a lot, I know). But don’t worry, while some of the symptoms of all four are similar, each one has distinct qualities to figure out which infection you may have. Details for each are listed below:
Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a the latest strain of coronavirus (yes, it’s been around before despite what others may have you believe). It’s spreading worldwide and sort of like that guy or girl that you never want to talk to. Treat it like you see them from far away and you hide just so they won’t talk to you, lol.
Other strains of coronavirus have been very common and can cause only mild symptoms (like the common cold). However, some strains, like COVID-19, can cause severe illness in certain groups. For example, older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. There’s currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 but the government has just greenlit some new vaccine that they are rapidly testing.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
– Shortness of breath – Fever (above 100 degrees)
– Dry cough – Gradual onset (two to 14 days after onset)
– Sometimes headache
– Sometimes aches and pains
– Mild sneezing
– Sometimes fatigue, but it’s not predominate like the flu
– Diarrhea is rare
The severity of COVID-19 symptoms ranges from mild to severe. If you think you might have COVID-19, check out our section about how to get tested. If you want to go into a hospital, remember to call ahead and let them know your symptoms before you go in. They may have you go in at certain times or by yourself in an effort to protect hospital staff and other patients.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe and occur seasonally. The most common include:
– runny or stuffy nose
– watery and itchy eyes
– itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals
– ear congestion
– postnasal drainage
– Less Common Symptoms Include:
– shortness of breath
Since allergies can sometimes make people feel as though they’re getting sick, allergies mainly cause itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, congestion and sneezing.
A major difference between allergies and coronavirus is the presence of fever, a main symptom of coronavirus but not a feature in seasonal allergies.
While you may feel “blah” and just not like doing, when you have a cold, the symptoms are generally mild compared to more aggressive viruses like the flu. A cold can cause any or all of these symptoms:
– Runny or stuffy nose
– Cough (mild)
– Fatigue (sometimes)
– Watery eyes
– Sore throat
– Headaches (rarely)
– Aches and pains
Most over-the-counter medications can knock out many cold symptoms within a few hours. A typical cold will last on average 7 to 10 days but can be managed with over the counter meds. The majority of the symptoms are actually not caused by the infection itself, but rather our body’s immune system trying get rid of it (i.e., shivering). Most cold viruses will go away if we’re patient and give our bodies time to fight them. Your immune system is the greatest defense against the common cold.
Seasonal influenza (better known as the flu) is like that ex that just won’t go away: just when you’re feeling good, he pops up and just leaves you feeling yucky (you like that analogy)? It usually affects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last from 5 to 7 days. Here are some common symptoms of the flu:
– Fever and/or chills
– Cough (usually dry
– Aches and pains
– Runny or stuffy nose (sometimes)
– Sore throat (sometimes)
– Diarrhea (sometimes in children)
Unlike for colds or coronavirus, vaccination is a good way to prevent the flu. If you received a flu shot and still get the flu, your symptoms are generally milder than if you didn’t receive the flu shot. Most people with the flu get well without medical treatment. Stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids and treat a fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).