Is it the flu or COVID-19?

Did you know that flu season and COVID surge season both take place at the same time of year?

Flu season and COVID-19 season now go hand-in-hand. The fact of the matter is, if you’re an ordinary person living an active, social life, you’re likely to catch either at least once in a blue moon. Combination COVID and flu testing is one way to distinguish both diseases. 

There are many similarities and differences between COVID-19 and the flu. What’s the best way to tell which one you’re dealing with?

How to tell if you have the flu or COVID-19

COVID and the flu have a lot in common—they’re both respiratory disorders that tend to surge seasonally. Both may leave you down and out for a week or so on average, and both may be exacerbated by any of many compromising, pre-existing conditions.

Despite the similarities, however, it’s worth pointing out that they’re far from identical. Different pathogens cause them, and they impact your system in different ways.

In the most basic terms, the flu, influenza, is a respiratory illness that may either pass by without incident or lead to something more serious. COVID-19, on the other hand, is a coronavirus caused by the pathogen SARS-CoV-2.

You can defend yourself from either by avoiding a potential exposure in public and by vaccinating yourself against what may end up being a severe infection. Many clinics, including ours, also offer combination flu and COVID testing, which can help you settle the matter definitively.

If you’re just sleuthing it on your own, you might consider comparing your symptoms against the general expectations for both diseases. The following has been outlined by the CDC. Is it COVID or the flu?

COVID-19 symptoms vs. Flu symptoms

According to the CDC, you can expect the following symptoms for both COVID-19 and the flu:

Commonly, if you’re experiencing digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting, it’s more likely that you have the flu, not COVID. The same goes for any unusual change in sense of taste and smell—while people with the flu may taste and smell differently because they’re congested, this is actually one of the hallmark symptoms of COVID-19.

Flu season, the time between December and February, coincides almost perfectly with that experts now refer to as COVID surge season. This may further confuse your quest to figure out just what exactly you or a loved one are dealing with—again, testing for both the flu and COVID simultaneously is the best way to rule out or confirm either.

Scroll down on our home page, and you’ll see a link to our flu and COVID test portal. After finding a Covid Clinic near you, your rapid COVID-19 and flu antigen test will be only a few clicks away.

What about allergies?

Allergies are also a common concern during this time of year, and lifelong allergy victims are usually pretty cognizant of their own seasonal patterns. Still, sometimes, allergy symptoms may feel an awful lot like a classic case of COVID or the flu.

Allergies are the odd one out here—there are no pathogens involved. Instead, allergens trigger an overreaction of the immune system, and your entire body reacts accordingly. Coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose are all very common allergy symptoms.

To be fair, allergies usually share more similarities between the common cold, not the flu or COVID-19. Unless you have asthma or any other breathing condition, it’s unlikely that allergies, pure and simple, will be confused for either COVID or the flu.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, testing is the most surefire way to get instant answers. Short of that, in any of the cases described above, we recommend bed rest, hot soup and tea, a warm bath, and an entire day off of your feet, if at all possible.

What’s the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

There are many differences between the flu and a case of COVID. Mostly, we encourage you to spend less time worrying about these differences and more time healing. You can get the ball rolling with a flu or a COVID test, allowing you to proceed promptly and accordingly.

Nobody likes getting sick, but the good news is that both of these conditions are extremely manageable in patients that are otherwise reasonably healthy. Eat right, stay hydrated, and be sure to get plenty of sleep at night if you’re already feeling under the weather.

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