Know The Difference Between Flu And COVID-19


It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and all the countries went under a strict lockdown. Being a respiratory disease, the symptoms of COVID-19 highly resemble the symptoms of common flu which have led to serious confusion and proven to be tragic for many. Here, we will go over all the major factors that differentiate COVID-19 from common flu to avoid confusion and prevent casualties.

COVID-19 V/S Common Flu

Distinguishing the difference between flu and COVID-19 can be difficult as both the conditions induce respiratory sickness, and the symptoms can be extremely similar. However, there still are significant distinctions if noticed closely. Mentioned below are some of them:

  1. Symptoms

The initial symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza (flu) are similar. It includes the patients experiencing fever and respiratory discomforts such as coughing and sore throat.

Cough, colds, headaches, sore throat, fever, chills and exhaustion are the most frequent flu symptoms. In addition, vomiting and diarrhoea are common in children with flu.

COVID-19 exhibits milder symptoms in the early stages, including fever, fatigue, a dry cough, red eyes, loss of taste & smell, and severe body pain. In addition, nasal congestion, sore throat, and diarrhoea may occur in certain cases.

As the COVID-19 condition worsens, the individual may have shortness of breath or have difficulty breathing. Those predisposed to severe sickness may acquire a severe illness, including pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multiorgan failure and eventually death.

Pneumonia can be caused by both influenza and COVID-19. While the symptoms are similar in both conditions, pneumonia is more common in COVID-19 as compared to the flu.

  1. Risk Factors

Flu can affect almost anyone and seldom has severe outcomes such as death. However, global cases demonstrate that COVID-19 has an extremely high mortality rate and often has a severe impact on the elderly, individuals with poor immunity and those with an underlying health condition.

  1. Treatment

As flu has been around for longer than COVID-19, there are more treatment options available for it. However, most of the time prescribed antiviral medications are sufficient to reduce the symptoms and treat flu.

While on the other hand, there is no treatment available for COVID-19 yet. However, there are multiple recently-developed vaccines that provide protection against the virus and ensure that the symptoms are not extreme if a person contracts the virus after being vaccinated.

  1. Prevention

Although both the diseases have extreme similarities, one is more fatal than the other. That said, protection from both are essential to maintain good health and prevent tragic complications. Some of the most efficient ways of preventing both the conditions are maintaining a healthy diet, taking even the slightest symptoms seriously, exercising regularly and maintaining good oral and nasal hygiene. The best way to prevent the flu is by taking the flu shot. Additional ways of preventing COVID-19 include washing/sanitizing hands frequently, maintaining social distance, taking the vaccination, avoiding crowded places, wearing a face mask whenever leaving the house and maintaining proper sanitation everywhere.

Learn more about our Department of General & Internal Medicine here.

Dr Srinivasa Charry

Consultant – Internal Medicine

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