COVID, Flu or Cold?
What's the Difference?

COVID, Flu or Cold?  What's the Difference?

October is the beginning of another flu season, people might have underestimated the damage of the flu virus after the COVID-19 pandemic, but a late treatment for flu might cause serious complications including bronchitis, pneumonia or even death.  

While there is the threat of a “twindemic” coming this winter, the flu should not be ignored. So, let’s take a look at the different symptoms of COVID-19, flu and common cold.  

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Let's Compare the Symptoms

The mode of transmission of the 3 viruses included through respiratory droplets or contact of contaminated surfaces or objects, and they all share very similar symptoms of infection. While the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are generally more severe and can affect your whole body rather than just your upper respiratory tract.  

What are the common symptoms of covid, flu and the common cold?

Symptoms listed above are for references only, different types of flus or variants of coronavirus may induce varying symptoms. 

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Let’s Compare Incubation, Infection, and Recovery Times

Incubation(~3 days for Omicron) 2-5 days after infection
(~3 days for Omicron) 
2 days after infection
Infectious1 day before symptoms begin until 5-7 days of the illness2-3 days before symptoms begin until 8-10 days of the illness1 day before symptoms begin until 5 days of the illness
Recovery5-7 days3-14 days (depends)3-7 days

What Are the Possible Complications?

Mutual complications of flu and COVID-19 include pneumonia, respiratory failure, acute dyspnea syndrome, septicemia, thromboembolism/multiple organ failure, worsening chronic disease, myocarditis and encephalitis etc. However, 10-20% of COVID-19 patients may experience “long covid” – incl. an extended period of fatigue and other symptoms in respiratory tract and nerve system. Generally, immunocompromised and elderly persons have a higher risk of developing the above complications.  

Rare complications of cold include bronchitis, pneumonia, otitis media and sinusitis etc. 

Therefore, you should consult a doctor and receive treatment in case of discomfort.

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