HOW TO TELL COVID-19 APART FROM THE FLU
The order of the symptoms could be a clue.
COVID-19 AND THE flu are caused by different viruses, but the symptoms (such as fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches) are remarkably similar. Being able to tell the two illnesses apart is important, as it will impact how they’re managed. An August 2020 study in Frontiers in Public Health suggests the order in which symptoms appear was slightly different in COVID-19 than influenza. This was the same regardless of how severe the illnesses were. So what should you watch for? Fever. This is the first symptom to appear with COVID-19, and the most common symptom, reported by 88 percent of patients in the study sample. It may start as a low-grade fever then get worse over time, or it can come and go. With the flu, fever can go as high as 103 or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s often the second symptom to appear. Cough. With influenza, a cough is often the first symptom to present. In COVID-19, it tends to appear after the fever, and is usually dry.
More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Frontiers study experienced a cough. Sore throat, body aches and headache. The study showed that these symptoms were the most likely to occur next in COVID-19, although they were much less frequent than the first two. Nausea and vomiting. Not many COVID-19 patients experience these symptoms, but if they do, it’s usually after fever and cough. Diarrhea. Another less common symptom, diarrhea tended to appear last. This symptom doesn’t usually show up in adults with the flu. Runny nose and nasal congestion. These symptoms are very unlikely with COVID-19 and more common with influenza.