Got a sniffle? Feeling run down? It could be a cold, the flu, pneumonia, or even COVID-19. Here are ten ways to tell the difference between these and how ARcare can help get you back to health.
Cold versus flu versus pneumonia
Nearly everyone will get the common cold at some point in their lives. Although it’s a viral infection in the nose and throat, it isn’t considered dangerous, because it usually doesn’t end with any serious health problems. However, it can be more damaging if you have an underlying condition or if you show more severe symptoms that aren’t going away.
- A blocked or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Head and muscle aches
- Fever (100+ degrees Fahrenheit)
- Pressure around the face (eyes/ears)
- A loss of smell/taste
The flu (or influenza) is a virus that also affects your nose, throat, and lungs. As a general rule, the flu is worse than a cold, but it’s difficult to tell the difference based on the symptoms alone. The flu shares many symptoms with a cold, but it’s usually more intense and comes on more abruptly.
Extra symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea/stomach pain
The flu can also trigger other complications, such as pneumonia, which is why healthcare professionals consider it more dangerous than the cold.
Flu shots in Arkansas
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 should get an annual flu shot due to the unpredictability of the virus. But what does the flu shot actually do? Most importantly, it can fight off some of those common and uncomfortable symptoms. By injecting the dead virus, it gives your immune system a chance to build up natural defenses called antibodies to some strains of the flu.
The flu shot is especially helpful for the elderly and for those with weak immune systems, because it can reduce their risk of infection by up to 60%.
Pneumonia is diagnosed as an infection in the lungs, which can be caused by bacteria, fungi, and/or viruses. Compared to the cold and flu, it’s more serious and often requires treatment with antibiotics.
- A chesty cough commonly with phlegm
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Sweating and shivering
- Chest pain
This virus, also called the coronavirus disease 2019, has proven complicated for many reasons, but the main reason is that it affects people differently. The main symptoms include fever, fatigue, dry cough, a headache, and a loss of taste/smell. If these symptoms sound familiar, it’s because they also appear with the cold, flu, and pneumonia.
10 ways to distinguish COVID-19 from the cold, flu, and pneumonia
This is the most common symptom of the illnesses. With COVID-19, however, the fever and other symptoms may take longer to appear. If you think that it’s COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible, and follow your doctor’s orders.
Researchers have found that COVID-19 affects different ages differently. And although they believed that the virus affected the elderly at a higher rate of contagion, researchers have now see an expanding higher rate among young adults.
3. Muscle pain and fatigue
This rarely occurs with the common cold, so if you start having muscle pain, pay attention, because it could be one of the other two illnesses or something else entirely.
4. Underlying medical conditions
If you have other health problems, it’s important to consider them in light of your symptoms. COVID-19 can be particularly dangerous for those with underlying conditions.
5. Rate of spread
COVID-19 can spread more slowly than the other two illnesses. Its symptoms may not appear until two weeks after you’ve contracted it, so if you show symptoms before then, it could be something else. Be careful though, because in the early stages, you could still infect those around you.
This isn’t very common with the cold, but it’s often a sign of a viral or bacterial infection elsewhere in your body, especially your digestive tract.
7. Secondary infections
Infections to different areas of your body can be concerning with these illnesses, because if your body is fighting one infection, it will be more difficult for it to fight another one.
Symptoms of a cold rarely last longer than 7-10 days, whereas the flu could take a while longer to go away. If you feel like your symptoms are getting more severe, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Since there are many different types of coughs, it’s important to think about how yours feels and what it sounds like. A deep, chesty cough is typical of the flu or pneumonia, but a dry, consistent cough could mean COVID-19.
If you’ve been taking what normally helps with a cold or the flu but isn’t helping now, be extra careful because it could be COVID-19. Get tested as soon as possible, and follow your doctor’s orders.
For more information
It’s always wise not to take risks when it comes to the cold, flu, or pneumonia. But with the growing uncertainty of COVID-19, safety is more important now than ever. Contact ARcare today at (866) 550-4719, or submit this form to request an appointment.