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How to spot the difference between common cold and Covid symptoms

How to spot the difference between common cold and Covid symptoms

Everyone seems to be under the weather at the moment

It seems people all over the UK have been coming down with something nasty in the past few weeks with the dreaded winter viruses making their rounds once again.

But, how can you spot the difference between a common cold and Covid symptoms?

However, before getting into all the sciencey stuff, let's focus on the differences between Covid, the flu and a cold.

What is the difference between Covid and cold symptoms?
Oleg Breslavtsev / Getty Images

Each of these three illnesses are caused by different viruses and, annoyingly, they can all have quite similar symptoms.

Now that different symptoms and different strains of Covid-19 have cropped up, it’s become harder to tell the difference between the three.

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the strain of coronavirus whereas flu, or influenza, is also a respiratory illness that affects your lungs but is caused by a different kind of virus.

Flu can be pretty dangerous for people with underlying medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes which is why they are commonly offered a flu jab at this time of year.

And colds are caused by many different viruses and only affects your upper respiratory tract - your nose and throat - not your lungs.

Because of this, a common cold is often referred to as a 'head cold' and usually aren't that serious.

Headaches are a typical symptom of both Covid and a cold.
Maria Korneeva / Getty Images

According to the NHS, cold symptoms come on gradually and can include:

  • a blocked or runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • coughs
  • sneezing
  • a raised temperature
  • pressure in your ears and face
  • loss of taste and smell
A sore throat is a symptom of Covid, the flu and a cold.
SimpleImages / Getty Images

Flu symptoms, however, come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden high temperature
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick
Feeling sick or being sick is a shared symptom of both the flu and Covid.
LaylaBird / Getty Images

Now, the symptoms for Covid are very similar to symptoms of both colds and the flu and can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick
People usually to feel better within a few days or weeks of their first Covid-19 symptoms and make a full recovery within 12 weeks.
Cris Cantón / Getty Images

As you can see, symptoms such as a headache, a sore throat, a runny nose, muscle aches, coughing or sneezing can be symptoms of either Covid or a cold.

While it can be difficult to spot the differences between the two, the NHS symptoms list inform that diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick, shortness of breath, feeling tired or exhausted and a loss of appetite are Covid symptoms that are not typically associated with a cold.

While most people start to feel better within a few days or weeks of their first Covid-19 symptoms and make a full recovery within 12 weeks, for some people, it can be a more serious illness and their symptoms can last longer.

If you have any concerns, you can always give 111 a quick ring for some advice.

Featured Image Credit: SimpleImages /Getty Images/Cris Cantón/Getty Images

Topics: Coronavirus, Covid-19, Health, News, UK News, Weather, Life, NHS