Is it Covid or Flu? How to distinguish symptoms?

Covid and flu have hypothetically similar symptoms: cough, body aches, fever. Both conditions can cause a runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and trouble breathing; both can leave you tired, feeling tired, and exhausted.

Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said that with BA.5, the dominant version of the coronavirus currently circulating in the United States, most people get vaccinated. will experience mild symptoms. Many people will have a sore throat and cold-like symptoms. The flu is more likely to cause aches and pains all over the body, says Dr. Chin-Hong. “You feel like you’re being beaten up,” he said.

There are some symptoms unique to Covid, such as loss of taste and smell, although people infected with BA.5 may experience them less often.

Both Covid and flu can cause severe illness in older adults, people with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women.

Adam Ratner, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone, says the only reliable way to know which infection you have is to get tested. A home Covid test can quickly determine if you have the virus, although testing too soon after infection can lead to false negation. Experts recommend doing a second rapid test 24 to 48 hours after the first to make sure the results are accurate. If you still have symptoms and test negative, you may want to do a PCR test, which is more sensitive and can, in some cases, detect the virus earlier than a rapid test.

You should also get tested for the flu, says Dr. Chin-Hong, so your doctor can prescribe a therapy like Tamiflu if you get sick. “At least you can eliminate your miserable day,” he said. Some pharmacies and Covid testing websites offer two-in-one tests for both diseases.

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