COVID-19 or Flu or Common Cold - How to Tell the Difference?
Internal Medicine

COVID-19 or Flu or Common Cold - How to Tell the Difference?

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, people are getting worried about their health even when they have mild symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, cough, or even mild fever. All these symptoms are closely related to any seasonal flu as well as COVID-19.  But there are other several differences between them.  

Here are some key differences between COVID-19, Flu, and Common Cold:

COVID-19: Symptoms & Treatment

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (a strain of Coronavirus). The incubation period is between 2 -14 days, and for some cases, it may go up to 24 days. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and breathing difficulty. One may also experience fewer common symptoms like sore throat, and body ache. In rarest cases one may have a runny nose. These symptoms last for 2 weeks in mild cases and 3 – 6 weeks in critical cases. Currently, no medicine or anti-viral drug is available for its treatment. Only symptoms can be controlled by medicines.

Flu: Symptoms & Treatment

Flu or Influenza is caused by the Influenza virus and affects your respiratory tract including – nose, throat and lungs. It has an incubation period of 1 – 4 days with COVID-alike symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, body ache, and cough. In some cases, one may have a runny nose but no difficulty in breathing. These symptoms last for 3 to 7 days. A vaccine to cure seasonal flu is available and the symptoms can be controlled by medicines.

Common Cold: Symptoms & Treatment

Common cold primarily affects the nose and is commonly caused by the rhinovirus. The incubation period is between 2-3 days and in severe cases, it can take even 10 days. The common symptoms are runny nose, sore throat, body ache, and maybe a mild cough. In the rarest case, one may experience fever but no breathing difficulty. These symptoms may last for a week or up to 12 days. There is no specific treatment for the common cold, only symptoms can be treated with medicines.

 The Bottom Line 

With increasing cases of COVID-19 throughout the nation, it has become crucial to identify the symptoms and not confuse them with symptoms of Flu or Cold. In case you are sick and have any confusion with the symptoms, you must consult a physician.

The Centre for Respiratory Disease and Sleep Disorder at Sarvodaya Hospital & Research Centre, Sec-8, Faridabad, is renowned for managing respiratory diseases. We have a team of highly qualified pulmonologists along with state-of-the-art technology to bring precision-based diagnosis and suitable treatment options. We ensure the safety of our patients amid this coronavirus outbreak by taking all the needful precautions that include - proper sanitization, isolation of suspected COVID cases, wearing masks all the time, thermal scanning of every person entering the hospital, staff wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) & a separate, dedicated block for surgical patients.

Dr. Manisha Mendiratta | Pulmonology | Sarvodaya Hospital

Dr. Manisha Mendiratta
Associate Director & Head - Pulmonology

View Profile