Cold, Allergies, Flu, or Coronavirus? Know you are not alone.

Many ailments share symptoms. Under ordinary circumstances, people struggle to decide if they should call a physician when they or other family members feel sick. The new coronavirus complicated the situation. 

Common signs a person has become ill include sore throat, cough, fever, tiredness, runny nose, itchy eyes, aches and pains, and an upset stomach—in a variety of combinations. Causes include environmental irritants such as allergens or infections, often from bacteria or viruses.

Viruses are extremely tiny infectious agents. They multiply in the living cells of a host organism like an animal or a human being, and spread from host to host. The subgroup called coronaviruses includes many varieties, some highly infectious and dangerous.

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, which the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in March 2020, shares some initial symptoms with other common respiratory infections. Although our understanding of COVID-19 continues to expand, the following breakdown of typical symptoms by type of ailment may help guide next steps.

Common Cold

  • Aches and pains
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

A cold may also cause mild dry cough and fatigue. Fever and headache rarely occur. Digestive issues and shortness of breath are not typical symptoms.

Allergies

  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sneezing

Some may also experience dry cough, headache and fatigue. Allergies do not usually cause aches and pains or digestive issues.

Flu

  • Aches and pains
  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Runny nose may also occur. Some, children in particular, may experience digestive issues and diarrhea. Sneezing and shortness of breath are not typical flu symptoms.

COVID-19

  • Dry cough
  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Other symptoms as described by the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to seek medical attention right away if COVID-19 symptoms develop into the following emergency warning signs:

  • Blue lips or skin tone
  • Chest pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty rousing

 

Sources:

cdc.gov, who.int, niaid.nih.gov