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With winter fast approaching and the threat of a second wave and lockdown creeping up, many are worried about how to tell the difference between the common cold, the flu and COVID symptoms. Pharmacist Navid Sole spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk on ways to distinguish them.
The challenge with these three respiratory infections is that they can all present with similar symptoms like coughs, a sore throat, a temperature, aches and pains, said Navid.
He continued: “However, the important distinction between the three is in regard to the commonality of the symptoms as well as how predominant each symptom is for each infection.
“While a lot of the symptoms for each of these illnesses cross over, each virus/infection has a different specific set of symptoms that increases the likelihood of it being that infection.
“Regular cold symptoms tend to be mild and disappear after a couple of days when compared to the flu and COVID, which can lead to more serious side effects such as pneumonia and even death.”
When asked how one can be sure they are suffering from just a cold rather than worry it may be early COVID-19 symptoms, Navid answered: “The common cold presents symptoms local to the mouth and nose, affecting only a small section of the body.
“Whereas, with the flu, you would expect the body as a whole to be affected, with symptoms from a fever to bodily aches and pains.
“Furthermore, COVID sufferers display symptoms such as a persistent fever, dry cough and specific features like the loss in taste or smell.
“What is more, with the common cold, symptoms usually peak within the first two to three days of infection, while the effects of COVID-19 appear two to 14 days after exposure.”
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) break down the differences in these highly contagious respiratory illnesses.
Those suffering with colds is more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, and their symptoms are usually milder than flu.
Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, like pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalization.
Flu and Covid-19 can result in severe illness and complications.
Both the flu and Covid-19 generally share symptoms of a dry cough, fever, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Loss of taste and smell and shortness of breath (without underlying conditions like asthma) are also prevalent symptoms of Covid-19.
Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting can sometimes be symptoms of the flu and Covid-19 as well.
The onset of flu is often dramatic (with showing symptoms within 1-4 days) while Covid-19 has shown to be a more subtle onset.
People with coronavirus may not show symptoms for as early as two days after infection to as late as 14 days after infection.
The time range can vary.
“It is imperative to note that although we have come a long way in terms of research since the beginning of the year, we are still learning about this COVID because it is a new virus,” added Navid.
“If you’re concerned, or have COVID symptoms, please contact a healthcare professional, such as a pharmacist or GP, and follow government guidelines by self-isolating for 14 days.”
People with the cold and the flu typically show symptoms for 14 days or less, while those with coronavirus can show symptoms anywhere from seven to 25 days.
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