Flu or COVID-19: How to Tell the Difference

woman lying on couch blowing her nose

You start feeling sick, and you have a fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. You feel fatigued, and your body aches. Because COVID-19, a form of coronavirus, is all over the news, you may immediately assume you have it, but COVID-19 actually shares many symptoms with flu. How can you tell the difference so you know what you should do?

COVID-19 and the flu are respiratory infections that are extremely contagious—and even potentially deadly. With both, you may develop all, some or none of the symptoms while still being contagious. Take a look at the symptoms of each:

Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Body or muscle aches
  • Chills or fever
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Newly developed loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat

Symptoms of the Flu

  • Body or muscle aches
  • Chills or fever
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting (more common in children than in adults)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Because flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, it might be easier to tell which you have because of the different symptoms: In addition to all the flu symptoms, people with COVID-19 may experience a newly developed loss of taste or smell. If you have this symptom, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s more likely that you have COVID-19.

The most effective way to determine whether you have COVID-19 or flu is to get tested. Both types of tests are available at River’s Edge Express Clinic, as well as at local health departments, community clinics and hospitals. If you believe you may have COVID-19, call the provider’s office before you arrive so they can take the appropriate safety precautions.

River’s Edge Express Clinic offers walk-in care Monday–Friday from 11 a.m.–7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. We accept most major health insurance plans, as well as cash and credit cards. Call 507-353-2997 to learn more.

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