COVID, Cold, Flu, or Allergies: How to Tell the Difference?
As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, a cough, sore throat, or even a sneeze can make people wonder if they’ve been infected with coronavirus. However, there are many conditions that can cause symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, including the flu, allergies, and even the common cold. Differentiating between these conditions can be challenging, but we’ve compiled information to help you identify the telltale signs of each.
COVID-19 is a viral infection caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It was identified in 2019 and has spurred a pandemic due to its contagiousness and potential to cause severe respiratory illness.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can vary greatly from case to case. Some people have asymptomatic cases, meaning that they don’t experience any symptoms from the virus. However, potential symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches/body aches
The Common Cold
The common cold and COVID-19 are both viral infections. While COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, colds are usually caused by rhinoviruses.
Many symptoms of a common cold are also potential symptoms of COVID. However, a cold will never cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, which sometimes occurs with COVID-19. Additionally, COVID-19 usually causes a fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, while the common cold only sometimes causes these symptoms.
The flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms, including fever, fatigue, headache, body aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. Both of these viral infections can also be severe and may even lead to death, namely in immunocompromised patients. However, there are some symptoms of COVID-19 that don’t occur with the flu, including difficulty breathing and a new loss of taste or smell.
Allergies, unlike COVID-19, aren’t caused by a virus. Instead, they are caused by your immune system’s response to allergens, such as pollen or pet dander. However, allergies and COVID-19 can cause some of the same symptoms, including cough, fatigue, and nasal congestion. That said, allergies will never cause fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, which are possible symptoms of COVID-19. Allergies also typically won’t cause difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, which are common symptoms of COVID-19.