Is it COVID or the FLU?

Posted by Source Ortho on 7th Oct 2021

Is it COVID or the FLU?

Understanding the Difference Between The Flu and COVID 19

As we approach the cooler months of the year, we are also approaching flu season. While flu numbers were at an all time low last winter, most likely due to public mask ordinances, the numbers are expected to be back up during the 2021-2022 flu season.

As the COVID 19 virus has mutated over the course of the past year, so have the symptoms. With the rise of the delta variant, COVID symptoms have begun to look and feel a lot more flu-like than they did this time last year. As you might imagine, this similarity in symptoms can lead to some questioning and confusion regarding which illness one has come down with if they find themselves ill with flu-like symptoms.

In this article we will be comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences between the coronavirus vs. the flu to help you better understand which you may have if you happen to find yourself sick.

COVID 19 Vs. The Flu

Both viruses, COVID 19 and the Flu have an overlap of symptoms. Infact, as the virus has mutated over the course of the pandemic, the symptom overlap between the two has increased rather significantly.

Symptoms commonly associated with both the flu and COVID 19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The Differences Between COVID 19 and the Flu

While there are a number of overlapping symptoms, there are still a few tell-tale symptoms that are typically only associated with the coronavirus.

Symptoms Unique to COVID

One of the most notable symptoms almost completely unique to the coronavirus is the loss of taste and smell. Although this can occasionally occur with the influenza, it is much more common and persistent with individuals who have come down with COVID.

Contagiousness of COVID 19

Although the flu is a virus similar to the coronavirus, one of the things that sets the two far apart is how transmissible they are. While the flu is contagious, it is not nearly as transmissible as the COVID 19. In fact, the Delta variant specifically is the most transmissible form of the virus we have seen. The high rate of transmission associated with the novel coronavirus is one thing that sets the two viruses apart.

Severity of COVID 19

Lastly, the most severe difference between influenza and the coronavirus is the mortality rate. While both the Flu and COVID 19 are viruses, they each have much different mortality rates. In the United States, the current mortality rate due to COVID 19 is about 1.6%., compared to approximately a .04% mortality rate associated with the influenza.

Onset of Symptoms

The onset of symptoms can vary significantly between the two viruses. When it comes to the flu, symptoms typically begin to develop between 1-4 days after infection. Alternatively, those infected with the coronavirus may not begin to develop symptoms until the 4th or 5th day, sometimes even up to 14 days after exposure.

Common Cold vs. COVID 19

Another piece to this puzzle is the difference in symptoms between people who are vaccinated and those that are not. While the vaccine does not guarantee that you will not contract COVID 19, it does typically help lessen the severity of symptoms.

While unvaccinated individual who contract the virus may have more severe respiratory symptoms, those who have been vaccinated may just feel that they have come down with the common cold.

The only way to truly tell if you have come down with a cold or possible COVID, is to get tested. 

How To Prevent Catching The Flu, COVID, or The Cold

The number one way to protect yourself against getting sick with or without a vaccine, is to continue to wear your mask.

Face masks have continued to show that they can be effective at preventing not only COVID 19, as was shown last year with the significant reduction in flu cases.

KN95 Face Masks

Comparable to N95 Face Masks, KN95 masks offer 5 layers of protection. They are European FFP2 certified, and protect against 95% of large and small airborne particles including aerosols and large fluid droplets including bacteria and viruses. Typically, KN95 face masks are designed with an ear loop and a moldable nose bridge to offer a tighter, more secure fit for optimal protection for both yourself and others in close contact.

3 Ply Face Masks

3 Ply Face Masks are a great option for protecting against airborne pollutants, allergens, bacteria, and viruses with up to 95% efficiency when worn properly. Although they do tend to be looser fitting, most 3 Ply face masks come with a flexible nose bridge for an option of a tighter fit.