Cold or Seasonal Flu? How to know that it isn’t Coronavirus

11th January 2021

Cold or Flu? how to know that it isn’t Coronavirus

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus not previously seen in humans that started spreading worldwide in 2020.

As we begin 2021 and into the first winter season with the new respiratory disease, we want to provide you with some guidance around how to differentiate between the common Cold, Flu and Coronavirus.

Here’s some information to help you better understand the signs, symptoms and treatments.

Woman sneezing on couch

Fever

A high temperature (37.8 degrees or above) can indicate that the body is fighting off any infection, not just the Cold, Flu or Coronavirus.  It is best to use a thermometer to take your temperature but if you don’t have access to one, check if your neck or back feel hot when you touch those areas.

Although a fever is a key Coronavirus symptom, it could be Flu or a different infection.  It is unlikely to be a Cold virus.

The NHS recommends the following instruction on how to take your temperature with a digital thermometer.*

How do i take my temperature

*Anyone with a high temperature of 38C+ is advised to self-isolate

A Loss Or Change To Your Sense Of Smell Or Taste

Symptoms of Coronavirus usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure with one of the most common indicators being that you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

It’s thought loss of smell happens with COVID-19 because the virus invades the cells found at the back of the nose, throat and on the tongue.

For viruses like the common Cold or Flu, your sense of smell and taste might be altered because a person’s airways are blocked.

While not all coronavirus patients will necessarily lose their sense of smell, if you do lose your sense of smell it is highly likely to be coronavirus.

Coughing, Sneezing and other aches

The Flu virus usually exposes its symptoms suddenly and you will often experience muscle aches, chills, headaches, tiredness, a sore throat and a runny or stuffed nose, along with a cough.

A typical Cold will last on average 7 to 10 days.  Most of the symptoms are actually not caused by the infection itself, but rather our body’s immune system trying to get rid of it. With the Cold virus a cough tends to develop gradually and is less severe, although you will still feel unwell. Along with a cough, there may be sneezing and a sore throat and runny nose. Fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches are rare.

A shortness of breath is a common sign of COVID-19 but you should only be worried about a cough if it is consistent for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits in 24 hours.  Upper respiratory symptoms, like a runny nose or sinus congestion, are very uncommon in COVID-19.

Symptoms Chart*

We have created the following chart to help differentiate between the symptoms:

Symptoms Table

*Please refer to the most up to date Government Guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Specialised Testing at Randox Health

At Randox Health, we offer a rapid and accurate Cough, Cold and Flu test as well as the ability to test for Coronavirus at home or within one of our clinics.

Cough, Cold and Flu, can rapidly detect and identify the cause of 21 respiratory infections in just 5 hours.

Our pioneering test for COVID-19 utilises PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to accurately and reliably diagnose COVID-19, thus facilitating appropriate containment and reducing further spread of disease.