The symptoms of coronavirus compared to the flu are very similar. But there are a couple of signs that will let you know which one you may be experiencing.
The World Health Organization has already confirmed more than 130,000 cases of coronavirus around the globe and has officially called it a pandemic. Over 5,000 people have died. So, it’s important to not only know what the symptoms of coronavirus are but also the seriousness.
Let’s look at the differences between coronavirus and the flu and the symptoms that make one stand out from the other.
The baseline symptoms for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) do resemble seasonal flu. They are fever and cough, but one thing that sets coronavirus apart is it also causes shortness of breath.
This year, like most years, the symptoms of the flu start with a “fact check.” To do a quick symptom check for influenza think "F.A.C.T.S." That stands for fever, aches, chills, tiredness and sudden onset.
A fever is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. Flu-related fevers are typically 101˚ F or higher. Viruses thrive at your normal body temperature of 98.6˚ F, so when your body is hotter it's harder for the flu virus to survive. The warmer temperature also stimulates your immune system.
Your body will ache, most likely, all over. Why? Your body is releasing chemicals to help white blood cells fight off the infection. Like a fever, it’s actually a good sign, but the side-effect is soreness.
If you don’t have a fever, there’s a really good chance that you will experience chills while the virus runs its course. Chills are caused by rapid muscle contraction and relaxation. They are your body's way of producing heat when it feels cold.
You’ll feel tired because your immune system is working so hard to fight the virus, you feel worn out. Your muscles may even lose strength. Tiredness is also one of the symptoms that may linger even after your other symptoms disappear.
Sudden onset may be the tell-tale sign you have the flu. It is a trademark symptom of influenza, whereas colds usually begin with a stuffy nose or sore throat and then progress gradually.
So, when you’re comparing the two, you can use this chart as a guide.
You can see that both flu and coronavirus will exhibit fever, fatigue, body aches, cough, and the symptoms will worsen as time goes on.
But what is turning out to be the tell-tale sign of coronavirus is shortness of breath. This is a respiratory virus that can develop into pneumonia. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and COVID-19 are respiratory diseases caused by coronavirus, albeit different strands. You may also remember H1N1, though also a respiratory illness, it was a strain of influenza.
The Ohio Department of Health has a more detailed chart on its website.
The other signs that may tell you if you have coronavirus are if you’ve traveled recently or if you remember being exposed to someone who was diagnosed with coronavirus.
Another difference between coronavirus and flu is the contagiousness. Disease experts estimate that each COVID-19 sufferer infects between two to three others. That's a reproduction rate up to twice as high as seasonal flu, which typically infects 1.3 new people for each patient.
If you think you're experiencing coronavirus symptoms, MyLinks has created a patient self-assessment tool that you can use. This online coronavirus test is based on guidelines from The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. It will help you to understand what you should do next if you're showing signs of COVID-19.
The tool is free, but it should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other healthcare provider.
Another big difference between coronavirus and flu is that there is no vaccine for coronavirus yet. Scientists are working on it, but for now, your best defense against coronavirus and to keep it from spreading is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly (if soap and water are unavailable).
Also, avoid shaking hands, touching your face and wear a mask if you are sick. Masks are not required unless you are ill or you are taking care of someone who is.
Coughing and sneezing will spread the infection. The droplets go airborne and land on the people around an infected person. You can also be exposed if contaminants land on your hands and you then touch your eyes or mouth.
Influenza spreads much the same way, and flu season spans the winter months because people are in close contact with each other while they are cooped up inside.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this blog, contact your doctor. And for more information on ways to keep infectious diseases from spreading, download our guide “How To Avoid The Flu.” There are helpful tips inside that will help you to keep from spreading everything from the flu to the common cold.
And if you're unsure about visting your doctor during the coronavirus outbreak, take a look at our Telehealth Services page or call today to schedule a telehealth appointment. Virtual doctor appointments are just another way we are helping you become a healthier you. Call to schedule your virtual doctor visit today.