Coronavirus vs. the Flu: How to Tell the Difference
If you’re following the news related to the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that many of the symptoms listed for COVID-19 are also associated with the flu. This makes it difficult to tell the difference between the two illnesses and take appropriate measures for quarantining and treatment. Even experienced medical professionals warn that the only way to determine whether you or a loved one is coming down with the flu or experiencing COVID-19 is to get tested.
Reliable flu tests have been available for many years now, but this is less true for coronavirus. Various testing methods have been in development since COVID-19 came on the scene in late 2019, and there are now a number of coronavirus tests available to the public. If you’re in the St. Johns, Michigan, area, you can receive testing for both coronavirus and the flu at Ouch Urgent Care. In the meantime, read on for some basic information about both of these highly contagious viruses.
Causes & Complications
The illness we commonly call “the flu” has been around for centuries. It’s caused by various strains of the influenza virus. COVID-19, on the other hand, is caused by a new strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Both of these viruses are spread through human contact, and they both cause respiratory infections that can be mild or severe. The vast majority of people who contract either illness fully recover. However, many people die each year from complications caused by the flu, and the death rate for COVID-19 patients has alarmed health experts around the globe. Moreover, recent research indicates the risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 complications is significantly higher than for the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been continually updating its list of reported coronavirus symptoms since early 2020, when COVID-19 began sweeping the United States. The list of flu-like symptoms includes:
- Fever and/or chills
- Body aches and fatigue
- Throat pain
- Nasal congestion and/or discharge
- Shortness of breath
Additionally, people can be infected with either type of virus and remain asymptomatic.
One difference in symptoms noted by the CDC is that many people experiencing COVID-19 have reported a loss of taste and smell. Another difference between the flu and COVID-19 is that flu symptoms typically come on fast and strong, while COVID-19 symptoms may develop slowly up to four days after exposure to the coronavirus.
The No. 1 way to prevent contracting the flu is to receive an annual flu vaccination, according to the CDC. Flu shots have been widely available in the U.S. for decades, and they are recommended for almost everyone, including infants older than 6 months. A coronavirus vaccine is expected to be available for broad distribution in 2021. Until then, there are some precautions recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of both viruses. They include:
- Frequent and thorough hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer
- Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people
- Wearing a mask when outside the home, especially indoors
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily
If you’re in the St. Johns, Michigan, area, you can turn to the compassionate health care team at Ouch Urgent Care for a wide variety of services related to the flu and coronavirus. We offer telemedicine services during which you can use your video-enabled mobile device to consult with one of our well-qualified practitioners about your symptoms. We also offer flu testing and treatment, and we provide car-side coronavirus testing, available to those who use our online check-in service to reserve a time. We also offer flu shots.
Do you have questions? Contact us today for more information about how Ouch Urgent Care is helping our St. Johns community navigate the difficult time caused by the coronavirus pandemic.