Understanding the Difference Between COVID-19, the Common Cold, Allergies, and the Flu

COVID-19 Chart

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the world, many people are becoming more and more concerned when they experience any symptom that could indicate coronavirus. However, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 has emerged during both the cold and flu season and the start of allergy season. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 should not be taken lightly, but you shouldn’t worry at every sneeze, cough, or mild feelings of fatigue. To help you better understand your symptoms, it’s important to understand the differences between COVID-19, the common cold, allergies, and the flu.

Understanding COVID-19

First, let’s look at the main symptoms for the current COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first discovered in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Since then, it’s spread rapidly and is now affecting every country and a majority of outlying islands. This is the primary difference between COVID-19 and the common cold, allergies, or the flu—the infection rate is much higher. COVID-19 seems to be more infectious than other respiratory illnesses that we’ve seen and is comparable to SARS and MERS. If a person is exposed to COVID-19, the incubation period is roughly 2-14 days. During this time, the virus can be spread even if the carrier is asymptomatic, which is why many states and countries have enacted shelter-in-place initiatives. If you do show symptoms, they usually present themselves mildly and get progressively worse over the following days. Some patients experience more severe symptoms than others and need to be hospitalized and given respiratory support. However, 80% of people have recovered without any treatment aside from rest, fluids, and doctor-approved fever reducers or pain medicine.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
  • A Severe, Dry Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

Some people also experience headaches, tiredness, sore throat, and body aches and pains. Although extremely rare, symptoms may also include a runny nose, diarrhea, or watery eyes. Sneezing is not associated with COVID-19. People with severe cases have difficulty breathing and need medical intervention.

Understanding the Common Cold

The common cold, which has been around for as long as mankind, presents itself much differently than COVID-19. While some strains of the common cold are actually a type of coronavirus, they’re much less serious. As we’ve seen with COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses, having a runny nose or general congestion is not typical. However, when you have a cold, these are two of the primary symptoms that most people experience.

Common symptoms of the common cold include:

  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue
  • Watery Eyes
  • Mild Cough
  • General Aches and Pains

Some people may also experience a headache or a mild fever, but the main symptoms of having the common cold are feeling worse than you do on a healthy day. Some people experience only one of the above symptoms, while others experience all of them. If you have the common cold, your symptoms will be the worst within 2-3 days and will start to get better after that. Some mild symptoms may persist for up to 14 days, but they generally aren’t bad enough to disrupt your daily activities.

Understanding Allergies

Allergy season couldn’t have started at a worse time. With everyone worried about COVID-19, a simple sneeze is being investigated under a microscope. However, allergies are very different from COVID-19, the common cold, and the flu.

Common signs of allergies include:

  • Runny Nose
  • Itchy or Watery Eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Dry, Tickly Cough

You will not feel worn down and aside from symptoms, people with allergies usually feel like themselves. If you suffer from severe allergies, you might experience a shortness of breath, especially if you have asthma. Allergy symptoms can be quickly treated using allergy medicines found at your local drugstore.

Understanding the Flu

While we’ve shifted our focus to COVID-19 this flu season, that doesn’t mean that the flu has become any less serious. The flu is still responsible for up to 650,000 deaths per year around the world. In terms of symptoms and severity, COVID-19 has the most in common with the flu.

Common signs of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Cough
  • Aches and Pains
  • Headaches
  • Sore Throat

Sometimes, people report having a runny or stuffy nose with the flu, but sneezing is very rarely a symptom. It is also extremely rare for people with the flu to experience a shortness of breath. The flu generally lasts about 5-7 days and you can receive the flu vaccine to protect yourself against severe symptoms.

The prevention of COVID-19, the common cold, and the flu are all the same. Keeping a healthy and strong immune system is one of the best ways to fight infection. Limit exposure, wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, stay home when you feel sick, avoid contact with anyone who is sick, and frequently disinfect high-touch areas to limit the possibility of catching COVID-19, the common cold, and the flu. If you do start to feel sick, call your doctor before trying to go into the office. There are many new protocols in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, so it’s important that you understand your doctor’s protocol before getting there. For naturopathic cold and flu relief, call the doctors at Atlas Health Medical Group today. We integrate vitamins, IV therapy, teas, and other naturopathic approaches to help your body gain the strength it needs to fight off infection naturally. Call us today at 480-648-1534 or email us at atlashealthmedicalgroup@gmail.com.

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