COVID-19 and Influenza Differences: FAQ

Flu season is right around the corner and with COVID-19 cases still continuing to rise, health experts are worried about the American people and the healthcare system handling both at the same time. One important aspect of managing flu season and COVID-19 is patients being able to identify the differences between the two illnesses and knowing what the next steps are based on their symptoms. Let’s review some of the most common questions to ensure you have the most accurate information possible! 

What Are COVID-19 Symptoms? 

COVID-19 symptoms include: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell 

Not everyone with COVID-19 will experience all of these symptoms. Some people will experience more severe symptoms than others. If you notice these symptoms after being around a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, you should assume you have COVID-19 and isolate yourself until you’re able to get tested. 

What Are Flu Symptoms? 

Flu symptoms are the same as COVID-19 symptoms with two exceptions. First, the flu does not cause a sudden loss of taste or smell. Second, the flu commonly causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, while these are uncommon in COVID-19 cases. 

How Can I Protect Myself? 

You can protect yourself from the flu by getting your flu vaccine and avoiding sick people. Practice good hand hygiene and maintain a healthy lifestyle to encourage a strong immune system. To lower your risk of getting COVID-19, follow all federal, state, and local health recommendations. Health experts are urging people to maintain 6-foot social distancing and wear a mask in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. Both of those things also lower your risk of getting the flu, so it’s a win-win! Limit your time in public by utilizing remote learning, working, and healthcare options and get tested for COVID-19 regularly if you live in a high-risk area. 

Where Can I Get Tested? 

Your local urgent care center can perform COVID-19 testing and antibody testing. COVID-19 testing diagnoses an active case of COVID-19, while antibody testing tells you if you were previously exposed to the virus. An urgent care center can also administer flu testing and flu vaccines to significantly lower your risk of getting the flu. If you’re experiencing symptoms of either illness, an urgent care can provide treatment options and advise you on what your next course of action should be. 

For more information on COVID-19 and flu testing or treatment, contact a nearby urgent care center today! Stay up to date on the latest information in your area by contacting your local health department.