Is It Covid or the Flu?

Sep 01, 2022
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Is It Covid or the Flu?

If you have COVID-19, it’s essential to get treatment and quarantine to avoid spreading the illness. But did you know that COVID-19 shares many symptoms with the common cold and the flu? The only way to know for sure if your symptoms are due to COVID-19 is to get an antibody test, which we offer at St. Michael’s Elite Hospital, located in Sugar Land, Texas.

Here are some of the ways COVID-19 and the flu differ.

About COVID-19 and the flu

Both illnesses are caused by viruses. The influenza virus causes the flu, while SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID. They’re spread by respiratory droplets that enter the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets may land in your mouth or nose. Less commonly, they land on surfaces that you touch and then transfer to your mouth, nose, or eyes.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is more contagious than flu viruses, and people infected with COVID are contagious for longer than those with the flu. Generally, a person with the flu is contagious for about one day before they start showing symptoms and remain contagious for 3-4 days. Some people may remain contagious for up to seven days. 

People with COVID can start spreading the virus 2-3 days before their symptoms begin and for another eight days after their symptoms begin. 

Deciphering you symptoms

The flu usually causes a high fever, significant muscle aches, and chills. But COVID can also produce the same symptoms. 

Other shared symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

Unique to COVID, however, is a possible loss of taste and smell. You may have a stuffy nose and congestion with both illnesses, but COVID may also make breathing difficult. 

Severity of symptoms

The flu and COVID-19 can cause significant illness and complications, especially in older adults, immunocompromised people, and pregnant women. But, COVID-19 seems to be responsible for more serious illness, hospitalization, and even death in healthy people. 

Unlike the flu, COVID-19 can cause post-COVID syndrome in which symptoms, fatigue, and general unwellness linger long after infection. 

Diagnosis and treatment prevent complications

COVID-19 and the flu can result in problems like:

  • Pneumonia
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Respiratory failure
  • Sepsis
  • Cardiac problems, such as heart attack
  • Organ failure
  • Heart, brain, or muscle inflammation

Secondary bacterial infections are a more common complication of influenza than COVID-19. 

But COVID-19 may cause complications, including blood clots or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adults. 

Remember that you can protect yourself from significant complications from COVID-19 and the flu by getting vaccinated for each. Though they require different vaccinations, you can receive both at the same time. You may still contract one of the illnesses, but your symptoms will be less severe. 

The best step is to get tested if you’re experiencing symptoms that suggest the flu or COVID-19. Knowing your diagnosis helps you get the right treatment and avoid spreading illness in the community.

Contact St. Michael's Elite Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, today if you have flu or COVID-19 symptoms. Call or use the website to set up your testing appointment.