How To Tell If It’s A Normal Cold, Flu, Or COVID-19


To begin with, have you been suffering from a sore throat, a runny nose, and muscle aches? A normal cold, the flu, or Covid-19 could be the culprit. These disorders have similar symptoms so it might be difficult to tell which one is making you sick.

As the Omicron form has spread, Covid-19 case rates have risen, but hospitalization rates have remained low. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, an epidemiologist and former executive director of the Detroit Health Department, says research suggests that infection with this variant is less likely to be severe in vaccinated patients.

The crucial thing to remember is that a vaccine acts as a “warning” signal to your immune system. Every time we get a new dose of the vaccine, its ability to identify, target, and destroy viruses improves dramatically, El-Sayed explained. It seems to reason that if you’ve been vaccinated, your symptoms will be milder.

That isn’t to say that infections shouldn’t be addressed seriously, especially given the possibility of overburdening health-care systems, he added.

“Just because the per-individual risk of serious sickness is lower doesn’t imply Omicron isn’t a real risk on a societal level,” he said, “even a small percentage of a large number can be a large number.”

Advertisement ~ Scroll to continue

Many Covid-19 infections have the appearance of a cold or flu. According to Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, an attending physician at Children’s National Hospital, the best way to know is to undergo a test.

“Without a test, I would say it’s pretty difficult to tell right now,” Combs added. “We only have to treat cold-like symptoms in the same bucket” as COVID-19.

Treat these symptoms with caution

  • The loss of taste and smell, which has been the most common symptom of a Covid-19 infection, is still a possibility, albeit it is less common now than with other forms, according to El-Sayed.
  • However, the headache and dry cough that often accompany COVID-19 infection can be identified.
  • Cold, flu, and Covid-19 symptoms are often confused, according to El-Sayed. Fever, weariness, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea are common symptoms of both COVID-19 and the flu, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Taking a test to address your suspicions about COVID-19 is frequently a smart idea, but when you do it makes a difference.
  • If you’re experiencing symptoms, now is the time to get tested, according to El-Sayed.
Covid-19 Vaccination queue
Dr. Sarah Ash Combs at Children’s National Hospital advises treating all cold symptoms with caution at this time.

How to handle your child’s sniffling?

In preparation for the resumption to school after the winter break, Combs believes that people in the United States should treat cold and flu symptoms similarly to Covid-19.

When a family comes into her emergency room with a child who has sniffles and a sore throat and asks what it is, she is honest:

  • “Without a test, she can’t know for sure,” Combs said. Children’s symptoms are similar to adults’ in that they are more widespread and often milder, similar to a cold, she explained.
  • It’s critical to get your child vaccinated against the flu to avoid adding another virus to the mix, according to Combs. The US Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve a vaccine for children under the age of five, however people over the age of five can be immunized to lower the risk of disease transmission and serious illness. Testing will be critical in protecting against outbreaks once they return to school, according to Combs.
  • “I would argue that taking that test is really the only way to know if you’re looking to be really careful, because if you’re looking at a child going back to a school environment it is likely to spread to other individuals,” Combs said.
  • The good news is that when kids return to school, we’ll know how to handle infections, according to Combs.
  • When it’s unclear whether your child was exposed or if their test results are still waiting, she says, protocols including masking, cleaning, distancing, and limiting indoor gatherings are thought to be beneficial at preventing spread.
  • Also, keep in mind that advice may change over time, according to El-Sayed.
  • “It is rapidly changing. We’re gaining a lot of knowledge “he stated.

Read more: Kids Won’t Be Forced To Quarantine: North Carolina Schools