How to tell if it's a cold, the flu or COVID-19

Yesterday, it was a tickle in your throat but today, your mouth feels like a furnace and you've got a runny nose. It's hard to ignore the signs that you're sick. But even if you're already reaching for a decongestant and tissues, you may be wondering: Is this flu, or do I have COVID?

• What's the difference between flu and COVID-19?

Two key symptoms that differentiate flu and COVID-19 from the common cold are fever and body aches. If you're experiencing these symptoms, as well as coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting, you may have contracted either flu or the virus that causes COVID-19. It's exactly the similarity in symptoms that makes it so hard to tell which you have. However, COVID-19 symptoms tend to stick around longer than those from the flu and can also include a loss of smell and taste.

• Is it possible to be infected by both flu and COVID-19?

Unfortunately, yes. Though both viruses are spread in the same way by small particles released from the mouth and nose when sneezing, coughing, or talking - they're two distinct viruses. Flu is caused by the influenza virus while COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms from flu become noticeable sooner than COVID-19. But, if your initial symptoms get worse after about five days of feeling sick, you may have both viruses.

• The only way to know for sure is to take a COVID-19 test

Rapid antigen tests and viral PCR tests available at your doctor's require a nasal sample and can identify an active infection. And in some clinics a rapid PCR test can be done with a kid-friendly mouth swab test. But confirming or ruling out a COVID-19 infection is the first step toward a treatment plan that can help you manage your symptoms. While there are therapeutic treatments to lessen the severity and duration of both flu and COVID-19, they only work in the first few days of symptoms.

Urgent care clinics like Jovive Health, 601 East Roosevelt Road in Lombard, accept walk-ins and have same-day appointments to get tested quickly and conveniently.

So don't wait - if you think you have the flu and COVID-19, make an appointment to get tested so you can start feeling better sooner!


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