Here’s how to differentiate between symptoms of cold, flu and Covid-19

Friday, 18th September 2020, 4:23 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 4:24 pm

With winter on its way, many will soon be experiencing sniffles and runny noses - but do you know how to differentiate between the common cold and Covid-19?

Cold, flu and Covid-19 symptoms are similar but are caused by different viruses. It can be hard to tell which one you may have.

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Here are some tips on how to differentiate depending on your symptoms.

If you have a temperature

Having a high fever is likely to happen when your body is fighting off an infection, not just coronavirus. A high temperature is anything above 37.8C.

The best way to check your temperature is with a thermometer, but if you don’t have one, you can check you, or the person you are worried about, by feeling if they are hot to the touch on the back or chest.

A high temperature is likely to occur with the common cold. It is a common symptom of coronavirus, but could also be indicative of a flu or different infection.

If you have a fever, book a Covid-19 test. You can arrange one through NHS 111 coronavirus helpline.

If you have a cough

If you have a cold or the flu, a cough is a common symptom.

The flu usually comes with muscle aches, chills, headaches, tiredness and a sore throat. Sufferers will also often experience a stuffed or runny nose, and a cough. Having the flu feels worse than the cold.

Colds tend to develop more gradually over time and are less severe than the flu. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, a sore throat and a cough. Unlike the flu, sufferers rarely get chills, muscle aches or headaches.

A coronavirus cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or ‘episodes’ in 24 hours.

If you usually have a cough because of a long-standing medical condition like COPD, it may be worse than usual.

You should get tested for coronavirus if you develop a new, continuous cough.

If you have a loss of taste or smell

If you lose your sense of taste or smell you should arrange to get a coronavirus test.

These are key symptoms of Covid-19, but could also mean you have a cold or flu. Even if you don’t feel unwell, it is best to get a test to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

If you have a runny nose

As the temperature drops heading into the winter months, more people will likely get a cold. However, a runny nose does not mean you need to arrange a coronavirus test, say NHS Scotland.

Other Covid-19 symptoms

If you are feeling breathless, it can be a sign of a more serious coronavirus infection. If you are having trouble breathing, contact your doctor online or over the phone, or use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

If you are worried about a sudden shortness of breath, contact 999.

Symptoms may appear up to two weeks after exposure to coronavirus, but usually around day five.