Is it Covid, a cold or the flu? How to tell the difference if you're suffering with symptoms this Spring

Folk in Lancashire are being struck down by a variety of symptoms this spring, but aren’t sure whether they’re suffering from Covid, a cold or the flu.

By Jon Peake
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 12:19 pm

While a lot of the symptoms are similar, there are some noteable differences which indicate which one a person may have.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are a fever, cough and new loss of taste or smell. But there are many other possible signs and symptoms, which could lead to confusion.

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the strain of coronavirus that first emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

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Is it Covid, a cold or the flu - these are the main differences

Influenza (flu) is also a respiratory illness that affects your lungs, but flu is caused by a different kind of virus, instead of a coronavirus. Flu can be dangerous, which is why those with underlying medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes are offered a flu jab at this time of year.

Colds are caused by many different viruses, but most commonly a rhinovirus or a coronavirus. A cold only affects your upper respiratory tract (your nose and throat), not your lungs. Colds usually aren't serious.

Here are the symptoms of all three and how you can tell them apart. The symptoms in bold under Covid-19 are the main differences between the three illnesses.

Covid-19

Cough – usually (dry)

Muscle aches – usually

Tiredness – usually

Sneezing – rarely

Sore throat – usually

Runny or stuffy nose – usually

Fever – usually

Diarrhea – sometimes

Nausea or vomiting – sometimes

New loss of taste or smell – usually

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – usually

A cold

Cough – usually

Muscle aches – sometimes

Tiredness – sometimes

Sneezing – sometimes

Sore throat – usually

Runny or stuffy nose – usually

Fever – sometimes

Diarrhea – never

Nausea or vomiting – never

New loss of taste or smell – sometimes (if nose is blocked)

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – rarely

The flu

Cough – usually

Muscle aches – usually

Tiredness – usually

Sneezing – sometimes

Sore throat – usually

Runny or stuffy nose – usually

Fever – sometimes

Diarrhea – never

Nausea or vomiting – sometimes

New loss of taste or smell – rarely

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – rarely

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