The flu, Common Cold And Covid-19 – The Distinguishing Factors

The common cold, or simply cold is quite a common viral infectious disease. It mainly affects the upper respiratory tract, the respiratory mucosa of the nose, larynx, and sinuses. Signs and symptoms technically tend to vary from patient to patient and the severity of the infection. Some of the symptoms may include, sore throat, fever, headache, and sneezing, coughing and runny nose. 


It’s not a Deja vu! 

Common cold, flu, and the dreaded coronavirus share similar symptoms. If treated on time, the patients can recover quite significantly within 7 to 10 days, however, in some cases, the symptoms may be noticed up to three weeks. If the symptoms persist, it is recommended that you seek medical help immediately before a simple cold develops into severe health problems such as pneumonia. Depending on the age of the patient, the complications may vary and hence it is important to seek home care services for seniors if the person suffering is above the age of 60, to deal with other necessities beyond medical assistance. This is because conditions seem to turn fatal for the octogenarians and septuagenarians, because of their deteriorating immune system and age-induced weakness. 

Small yet essential details on common cold

With intensive research, it is now stated that around 200 virus strains are responsible for causing the common cold, some of the most frequent being – 

And of course the coronavirus. The spread is often marked by air and can be spread within those in close contact with infected patients, directly or indirectly through touching objects, uncovered sneezing and other such instances. 

Well, you may be compelled to understand the difference between common cold and covid-19, the reason why you are here. Hereby, we drive straight to understanding how you can differentiate between common cold, flu and Covid-19 and seek medical help accordingly. 

How to differentiate? 

Look for the following symptoms and their stay: 

In case the patient has been infected with covid-19 the incubation period may last somewhere between 2 to 14 days. But in the case of flu or cold, it may vary between 1 to 4 days or 1 to 3 days respectively.  

The symptoms in the case of covid-19 and common cold tend to intensify gradually. However, when it comes to flu, the symptoms tend to intensify abruptly.  

Patients affected with covid-19 may experience shortness of breath quite commonly. This is mild in case of cold and rare or may occur sometimes in case of flu. 

Fever is quite common for both covid-19 and flu. Common cold rarely shows signs of high fever, maybe mild. If the fever persists, and you notice other symptoms similar to that of covid-19, it is recommended that you seek medical help without any delay. For patients above the age of 60, it is important to opt for home care services for seniors to avail regular assistance and care beyond medical protocols. 

Other distinguishing symptoms may include loss of taste and smell, respiratory issues, nasal congestion, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, fatigue, cough, sore throat, body aches, and plenty others. 

The severity and mortality

To note, the symptoms of covid-19 and flu ranges between mild to severe, is also same in case of pneumonia. 

As an initiative by the World Health Organisation, the symptoms of covid-19 has been classified to understand whether a person would or would not require hospitalization. The symptoms as classified by the WHO, include – 

Along with headaches, other signs may be fever chills, breathlessness, muscle pain as mentioned by CDC. As stated by the WHO, around 15% of covid-19 cases are severe while 5% of them are critical. Patients if infected critically might require a ventilator to streamline breathing. The chances of the infection being severe and critical are much higher in the case of covid-19 than the flu or cold. Also, the leading health organisations stated that covid-19 appears to have a higher mortality rate in comparison with that of flu or cold. 

The transmission 

Both covid-19 and flu are contagious and can spread from person to person when in contact. The droplets containing the virus when passed from one to another can infect, causing symptoms of coronavirus and flu. The WHO states that the virus can also live on surfaces, however, it is not sure how long they can survive, can be hours or even days. 

The health care system states the speed of transmission differs between flu and covid-19. Flu tends to spread faster than Covid-19 and shows symptoms much earlier than the latter. The flu virus can get passed on way before they start to show any symptoms. On the contrary, covid-19 infection can be passed on without showing any signs of the infection. 

Final thoughts...

With the complications involved, dreading the viruses is not the remedy. It is important to spread awareness and follow some of the most common preventive methods that can combat the spread of flu, common cold and covid-19. Some of the common measures include wearing a mask, using sanitizers, frequent washing of hands, keeping a minimum of 6 feet distance from the infected patient, seeking medical help as soon as one feels unwell, avoiding touching the face after coughing or sneezing and most importantly avoiding crowds and gatherings. Besides, for both Covid-19 and influenza, vaccination is a must to combat the adversities. For further information on vaccination, you can get in touch with adept physicians through video or teleconsultation with the help of pioneering geriatric caregivers like Rising Care.