If you’re feeling sick right now, you’re probably worried you might have the COVID-19 coronavirus, but you may not be sure if it’s coronavirus or influenza (the flu). Below, we’ll walk you through the similarities and differences, so you can know what to watch for.
The incubation periods for the COVID-19 and influenza viruses are very different. The flu has an incubation period of 1 – 4 days and coronavirus has one of 2 – 14 days. If you’ve recently been exposed to someone with the flu and after a few days you haven’t shown any symptoms, you likely haven’t caught the virus. If you contract coronavirus though, you could go up to 2 weeks before you show any symptoms. So, what are the symptoms?
COVID-19 and influenza have many similar symptoms, including fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and nausea or diarrhea. There are some differences though that can help you figure out if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus. Although the previously listed symptoms can be caused by both, body aches, headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and nausea or diarrhea are less common for coronavirus. If you have all of those symptoms, it’s more likely you have the flu.
The biggest indicator that you have COVID-19 rather than the flu is shortness of breath. Coronavirus symptoms also have a gradual onset whereas the flu has a rapid onset of symptoms. Finally, the symptoms of coronavirus can last for several weeks where flu symptoms usually resolve after about a week.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus, even if you think it might just be the flu or a common cold, see a doctor and isolate yourself from others to prevent the spread until you have test results indicating that you are not infected.