Differences between influenza and COVID-19
The symptoms of the flu are very similar to the symptoms of a corona infection. Indeed, it is not easy to tell the difference. The differences need to be known so that therapy and diagnosis will go in the right direction from the start.
Dr. Kristin Englund is an infectious disease specialist at the renowned Cleveland Clinic in the United States. In a current article from the clinic, the expert explains the differences between the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19.
What diseases are the cause of cold symptoms?
Anyone who is currently coughing or sneezing may also be wondering if COVID-19 could be behind it. In addition to the available test methods, the present symptoms also indicate which disease may be the cause of the symptoms. Because in addition to some similarities, there are also differences, as the infectious disease specialist explains.
Similarities Between Influenza and COVID-19
According to Dr. En Englund, influenza viruses and coronaviruses are transmitted from person to person in the same way, that is, mainly through droplets that escape from the nose and mouth – especially when someone is coughing, sneezing or talking. If another person inhales such droplets in the air, there is a risk of infection. Infection is also possible by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes. Since COVID-19 is a new disease, there is virtually no immunity in the population, which is why SARS-CoV-2 is much more contagious than influenza viruses.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are common, says infectious disease specialist
Differences from COVID-19
Some people with COVID-19 also develop other symptoms. “Patients with COVID-19 have more diarrhea or nausea and vomiting,” notes Dr. Englund. Changes in smell or taste and confusion are also not uncommon with COVID-19. “COVID-19 appears to affect more organs in the body than the flu,” the specialist said.
COVID-19 lasts longer than the flu
As Dr. Englund reports that there are also differences in the duration of the disease. “Typically, flu symptoms persist for four or five days, or even seven days,” says the doctor. However, a COVID-19 illness lasts an average of ten days, and even longer if the course is severe.
Complications of influenza and COVID-19
Complications can occur with both diseases. The flu along with COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissue. The risk of complications is higher in older people and in people with underlying illnesses. Dr. According to Englund, there are additional complications with COVID-19. For example, blood clots and multisystem inflammation can occur.
“What we are seeing with COVID-19 are the so-called ‘mass media events’, in which an infected person goes to a meeting or party, but doesn’t necessarily show symptoms – and always transmits the virus to many people around them, ”Dr. Englund reports.
Contact a doctor if you suspect
However, only a test can provide a reliable distinction. The infectious disease specialist recommends urgently contacting a doctor if you suspect an infection. It doesn’t matter if it’s the flu or COVID-19. (v)
Flu season is fast approaching. How is COVID-19 different from regular flu? (Image: Pixel-Shot / stock.adobe.com)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Graduate Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.