cold-flue-covid

It’s that time of year! Cold? Flu? Or could it be…COVID-19?

December 6, 2021

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tickle in your throat immediately signals a red flag. But what is the difference between a cold, the flu, and COVID-19? Read on to find out!

What is a cold?

The common cold is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. There are many different viruses that can cause a cold and they can usually spread easily from person to person.

The symptoms of a cold are usually mild and include a tickle in your throat, a runny/stuffy nose, and sneezing. If there is a fever, it’s usually not very high.

There are no tests or treatment for the common cold. Usually it just needs to run its course.

What is the flu?

The flu is also a respiratory illness, but it is caused by the influenza virus. The influenza virus can easily spread from person to person.

The common symptoms of the flu are a sudden fever, chills, and body aches. Usually there is also a sore throat, runny nose, and cough. People who get the flu can feel miserable, tired, and don’t have much of an appetite.

A doctor can do a test to check if you have the flu.

Most people require plenty of fluids and rest to recover from the flu. In some cases, an antiviral medication may be prescribed by your doctor to help shorten the illness. In rare cases, people get very ill and need to be treated in the hospital.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the COVID-19 virus. Like the viruses that cause flus and colds, COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person.

The symptoms of COVID-19 vary in different people. Some may not have any symptoms and some have very severe flu-like symptoms. One symptom that happens more commonly in COVID-19 is loss of taste or smell.

Doctors can do a test to confirm if sometime has COVID-19.

There are currently no specific medicines to treat COVID-10. There are some antiviral medications on the horizon, but currently none are available for use in Canada.

How can I tell if I have a cold, flu, or COVID-19?

Although there are many similar symptoms, there is some slight variation between symptoms of the cold, flu, and COVID-19. The summary table below can help you better understand these differences.

 Signs or symptoms
 Cold
 Flu
 COVID-19
 Cough
 Usually
Usually
 Usually (dry)
 Muscle aches
 Sometimes
 Usually
 Usually
 Tiredness
 Sometimes
 Usually
 Usually
 Sore throat
 Usually
 Usually
 Usually
Runny or stuffy nose
 Usually
 Usually
 Usually
 Fever
 Sometimes
 Usually
 Usually
 Nausea or vomiting
 Never
 Sometimes
 Sometimes
 Diarrhea
 Never
 Sometimes
 Sometimes
 Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
 –
 Usually
 Usually
 New loss of taste or smell
 Sometimes (especially with a stuffy nose)
 Rarely
 Usually (early and often without a runny/stuffy nose)
 Sneezing
 Sometimes
 –
 Rarely


How can you avoid getting sick?

If possible, make sure you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and annually vaccinated against the flu. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine here.

You can also use some precautions to help reduce your risk of infection from the viruses that can make you sick. This includes:

  • Avoiding close contact with anyone outside your household
  • Wearing a face mask in indoor public spaces or crowded outdoor spaces
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Avoiding crowded indoor spaces
  • Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect areas that are touched often like doorknobs and light switches

Can someone at Pulse On Call help me?

Of course! Schedule an online doctors appointment and one of our team members will be happy to help. Our licensed Canadian physicians can help diagnose and can also provide prescriptions online.

If additional testing is required, we can still help! Our doctors can help find a nearby facility to help carry out any required testing or refer you to a local specialist.

The best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home and it’s free if you have OHIP coverage!

*Please Note:

Please note that all information within this posting is up-to-date at the time of publication.