Is it COVID, the flu, a cold, or allergies?

If you are feeling sick in this era of COVID, you may be wondering what exactly you are sick with. It doesn’t help that flu season has just begun. Is that stuffy nose the onset of the flu, COVID-19, a cold, or is it just allergies? Unfortunately, it is not easy to tell.

The only way to know for sure if you have COVID or the flu is to be tested, but there are some signs that might point you in the right direction:

  • If you have congestion or a runny nose, it is most likely a cold, as this is an uncommon symptom for the flu or COVID.
  • As often reported, a symptom that is very unique to COVID is loss of taste or smell. This would be a very quick and dramatic loss, not a gradual one as you would experience with a cold.
  • Colds come on gradually, flu comes on abruptly, and COVID comes on 2 to 14 days after you have been exposed to it.
  • A symptom of COVID is shortness of breath, whereas flu and colds typically don’t have this.
  • Colds and the flu usually last for only 7 to 10 days, whereas COVID can last for a lot longer.
  • Allergies don’t cause a fever or chills, whereas fevers are common in the flu and can happen with COVID.
  • Sneezing is typically a symptom of a cold, not COVID or the flu.
  • Nausea or vomiting is a symptom of COVID.

A vaccine for COVID is still in the making, but flu vaccinations are readily available and are considered to be the best protection against the flu. It is a good idea to get one as early as possible. If you are in a high risk category, which includes patients with cancer, COPD, or a weakened immune system, you should ask your doctor what extra precautions you should be taking to avoid COVID and the flu.

If you’re not feeling well, Park Avenue Medical Professionals in New York can determine what exactly the problem is, which is the first step to feeling better! Call 212-427-2000 for an appointment.

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Someone from our office will contact you as soon as possible. For immediate assistance during regular office hours, please call 212.427.2000 and select the correct prompt. If this is a medical emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest hospital.
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