Publication: Friday, November 20, 2020 2:47 PM
With the change of seasons and the drop in temperatures, the flu begins to appear among the population and with it doubts as to whether it is a case of coronavirus.
Although COVID-19 and influenza share routes of transmission, cause respiratory illnesses, and share some symptoms, some differences can be made between them. The first difference is in the way the symptoms appear: in the coronavirus, the symptoms usually appear gradually while those of the flu appear simultaneously.
In contrast, the type of symptoms differ between the two diseases, despite the fact that fever, cough, and loss of smell or taste are common symptoms. In that sense, fatigue, sore throats, headaches and muscle aches seem to occur more frequently in influenza than in COVID-19, according to the Department of Health website.
As noted above, fever is common in both diseases. However, there is a small difference: in the case of influenza it is usually lower, in patients with coronavirus they reach high body temperatures. As for the cough, it is much drier and more irritating in COVID-19 than in the flu, characterized by mucus and phlegm.
In this way, the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that nasal congestion and sneezing are typical of the flu, as is loss of appetite. Meanwhile, respiratory distress, throat problems and dryness predominate in the coronavirus. In addition, you may suffer from hypogeusia (loss of taste) and anosmia (complete loss of smell). In any case, the differential diagnosis should always be performed by a healthcare professional, according to the ministry’s website.
In addition to the different symptoms, the two diseases have different percentages of patients with severe symptoms. In the case of the coronavirus, 80% of the patients who contract it have the disease mildly or asymptomatically, 15% have severe symptoms requiring oxygen and hospitalization, and 5% cause critical symptoms, requiring ventilation and hospitalization an intensive care unit. However, this percentage of serious illness “appears to be higher” in the coronavirus than in cases of infection with the influenza virus, according to the website of the Department of Health.
The differences between the common cold and the coronavirus
The flu is not the only illness that appears at this time of year. Colds or colds are also present and their appearance can be confusing for patients who think it is a coronavirus.
Faced with this problem, MªTeresa Pérez Gracia, professor of microbiology at CEU Cardenal Herrera University, points out that fever and loss of smell or taste are symptoms of the coronavirus while sneezing and runny nose are symptoms of a cold. Additionally, muscle aches, shortness of breath, and headaches tend to appear more in coronavirus patients than in those with the common cold.
That said, the following table summarizes the differences between these three diseases.