Not sure if you have the common cold or COVID? Get tested anyway, according to the Northern Health Authority.
“Influenza, COVID-19 and the common cold, they actually do have a lot of really overlapping symptoms,” Dr. Rakel Kling, Northern Health medical health officer, told Black Press Media.
“Because of this, we really do encourage anyone with symptoms to get tested for COVID-19. It’s really the best way to find out which bug you have and whether or not it’s COVID-19.”
Kling said there is no easy way to discern between the common cold, influenza and COVID-19.
In terms of symptoms, all three conditions share varying levels of fever, coughing, runny nose, and sneezing, but are not limited to just these.
“It can make for a very confusing respiratory season,” Kling admits.
The most common symptoms of a cold include runny nose, sore throat, cough, headaches and body aches, as well as “the stuffy mucousy feeling” that we all get when a cold sets in, Kling said.
The flu’s most common symptoms include fever, cough, shaking and chills, body aches, headache and feeling very fatigued.
The doctor warned that there are severe symptoms for influenza and any respiratory illnesses one can catch and develop, such as difficulty breathing and chest pain. While these tend to occur to those who are more elderly with preexisting conditions, it can happen to anyone, she said.
“They don’t happen very often, but when they do, it’s important to seek care immediately, go to the hospital or call 911,” Kling said.
For COVID-19, the key symptoms are fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, and other common symptoms such as sore throat, loss of appetite, upset stomach, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting, Kling said.
The most well-known symptom of COVID-19 is the loss of smell or taste.
“These are not really seen in the other two — in influenza or the common cold. So, that’s one thing where you can really distinguish between the three,” she said.
“I don’t think there’s any symptoms of influenza or a cold that are not a possible symptom of COVID-19, which is why it’s very important if you’re having symptoms to get tested,” Kling said, adding not to let slip any newly-formed pandemic habits such as wearing a mask where you’re supposed to and washing your hands frequently.
The first and best line of defence is getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and getting the seasonal flu shot, King said, and if you’re sick, stay home.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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