A woman sitting on the sofa with a mask and looking at a thermometer

The symptoms and differences between the cold, the flu and coronavirus

Identifying the characteristics of these viruses can prevent unnecessary visits to the doctor's

Seasonal flu has always been a concern among various health experts. This year the medical concern is entirely focused on the pandemic caused by coronavirus, which shares symptoms with allergies and colds, so being fully aware of when to seek medical assistance is a key factor.

Flu, cold or coronavirus

Both the common flu and a cold have no cure so if we catch it, we just let it go away. The most common symptoms of both of them that are shared with COVID-19 are: cough, headache, nasal congestion and general discomfort.

However, to find out exactly what they are, you have to pay special attention to the aspects that make them different. One of them is fever. Common colds do not usually cause any fever, while  the flu and COVID-19 usually raise the temperature quite a lot.

According to a Spanish newspaper, “el Confidencial”, the flu can also cause muscle aches and pains, particularly in the arms, legs and back, as well as in the joints. A cold can also cause pain, but much less than the flu. In addition, the symptoms of a cold appear gradually, whereas those of the flu appear all of a sudden.

Another aspect to focus on is the cough, since depending on the type of cough, we will be talking about one or the other. In the cold, the cough is usually moderate and productive, that is with phlegm. On the other hand, in the flu and coronavirus, the cough is dry.

With the COVID-19 alert, one may be tempted to call the doctor to be evaluated. But it is advisable to be sure before going to any health centre, except in an emergency, in order not to collapse the system.

When to call the doctor

From the list of symptoms related to COVID-19 -the most frequents are: fever, tiredness, dry cough, aches, nasal congestion, a runny nose, a sore throat and diarrhea- a patient who confirms they have a cough, fever and a feeling of difficulty breathing is better off calling the doctor and reporting their symptoms and whether they have had any contact with an infected person.

During the phone call, the health services will assess the patient's health condition and if necessary, carry out a test, and the patient will have to follow the instructions given by the health services in any case, whether the test is positive or negative.

[This is a translation of the original article "Las diferencias y síntomas entre el resfriado, gripe y coronavirus" published in espanadiario.net]