Best Health

HOW TO TELL COVID-19 APART FROM THE FLU

The or­der of the symp­toms could be a clue.

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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.

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