Despite numerous regulations and hygiene measures, the number of daily corona infections is constantly too high. Winter time is also the season of influenza (flu) and colds. Many therefore wonder how a difference can be recognized and what to watch out for when you feel sick. We give answers.
Hoarseness, runny nose, cough and sore throat – these symptoms are not uncommon in winter. Sometimes it’s a simple cold or the flu. For the layperson it is not immediately possible to distinguish which disease is involved. In addition, we are living in a time of pandemic. There may be a corona infection.
Similar symptoms with flu and colds
The symptoms of the flu are very similar to the symptoms of a corona infection. Dr. med. Kristin Englund is an infectious disease specialist at the renowned Cleveland Clinic in the USA. In a current article by the clinic, the expert explains the differences in the symptoms of flu and corona (COVID-19).
Anyone who is currently coughing or sneezing may also be concerned about whether COVID-19 could be behind it. In addition to the test methods available, the present symptoms also indicate which illness may be the cause of the symptoms. Because in addition to a few similarities, there are also differences, as the infectiologist explains.
Similarities between flu and COVID-19
According to Dr. In Englund, flu viruses and coronaviruses are transmitted from person to person in a similar way, i.e. mainly through droplets that escape from the nose and mouth – especially when someone coughs, sneezes or speaks. If another person inhales such droplets in the air, there is a possibility of infection. Infection is also possible by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes. Since COVID-19 is a new disease, there are hardly any immunities in the population, which is why SARS-CoV-2 is much more contagious than flu viruses.
According to the infectiologist, common symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are common
Differences in COVID-19, flu, and colds
Some people with COVID-19 develop other symptoms as well. “Patients with COVID-19 have more diarrhea or nausea and vomiting,” notes Dr. Englund. Changes in the sense of smell or taste and confusion are also not uncommon with COVID-19. “COVID-19 seems to affect more organs in the body than the flu,” said the specialist.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) names these symptoms for seasonal flu:
– To cough
– Sore throat
– A headache
– body aches
– general physical weakness
– Sweats, sweating at night
According to the RKI, infection with the novel corona virus can occur at the beginning pass even without symptoms. With Covid-19, the following complaints occur in most cases:
– To cough
– shortness of breath
– Loss of smell and taste
– A headache
– body aches
In addition, there may be other symptoms. RKI experts say that it can lead to loss of appetite and gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. A runny nose, sore throat and swelling of the lymph nodes are also typical. Skin rashes have also been seen in infected patients.
Symptoms of a cold
A flu-like infection (cold) is caused by rhinoviruses. A cold usually lasts less than a week. A clear difference: a cold rarely causes a fever.
The most common symptoms of a cold are:
– visibly reddened throat
– mild to moderate sore throat
– slight headache and body aches
– To cough
COVID-19 lasts longer than flu
As Dr. Englund reports that there are also differences in the duration of the illness. “As a rule, flu symptoms persist for four or five days – maybe even seven days,” says the doctor. However, a COVID-19 illness lasts an average of ten days, and even longer if the course is severe.
Complications from flu and COVID-19
Complications can occur with both diseases. Both influenza and COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissue. The risk of complications is higher in the elderly and in people with underlying diseases. Dr. According to Englund, there are additional complications with COVID-19. For example, blood clots and multisystemic inflammation can occur.
“What we observe with COVID-19 are the so-called ‘superspreading events’, in which an infected person goes to a meeting or a party, but does not necessarily show symptoms – and still transmits the virus to many people around them,” reports Dr. Englund.
Contact a doctor in case of suspicion
However, only a test can provide a reliable distinction. The infectiologist urgently recommends contacting a doctor if you suspect an infection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s influenza or COVID-19. (sb, vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- Robert Koch Institute: Influenza Advisor, RKI
- Cleveland Clinic: Flu vs. COVID-19: Can You Tell the Difference?, Cleveland Clinic
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.