Coronavirus symptoms vs cold: What’s the difference between the flu and covid-19?

Coronavirus cases are shooting up in the UK and the Department of Health has warned that elderly and vulnerable people could be confined to their homes from next week. Concerts may be banned and schools might close in order to prevent spreading. But how do you know if you have coronavirus? What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The flu, officially called Influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.

It is believed the flu is spread through droplets, which occur when someone with the flu speaks, sneezes, or coughs.

Droplets land on surfaces, or directly into the mouths or noses of other people.

The flu normally only lasts a couple weeks, and you will feel yourself getting better.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone will experience this)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches

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What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses.

It is tricky to tell between the two based on symptoms, but the flu is generally worse than colds.

The flu can have very serious complications, such as pneumonia or bacterial infections, whereas colds don’t normally.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is actually the name for a family of viruses that causes disease in animals.

Seven have made the jump from animal to humans, including the virus COVID-19 which we are experiencing globally now.

Mostly, they just cause cold-like symptoms.

The main symptoms include:

  • A dry cough
  • A temperature
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath (in more severe cases)

Other possible symptoms are:

  • Aches and pains
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhoea

Symptoms appear between two and 10 days after catching the virus, but be aware it may take 24 days.

Older and vulnerable people are more at risk of the disease developing into something more serious.

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What is the difference between the flu and coronavirus?

Both the flu and coronaviruses are respiratory illnesses that are caused by viruses and are spread by droplets.

The symptoms are similar, but the illnesses are caused by viruses from different families.

The main difference at the moment is that scientists have studied the influenza virus for years, but know very little about coronavirus.

We know the flu occurs more in the winter and dies down in the spring, but the same can’t be said for COVID-19.

The fatality rate is different- globally less than one percent of people who caught the flu this winter have died, but the fatality rate of COVID-19 is at 3.4 percent currently.

A flu vaccine has been readily available since 1945, but there is no vaccine for COVID-19 and might not be for more than a year.

The main difference is the unpredictablity of coronavirus- we don’t know when or if it will naturally die down.

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