How do you tell if those symptoms are COVID-19 or influenza?

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(The Center Square) – Illinois will soon be back in cold and flu season so how can people tell if they’re coming down with one of the season’s illnesses or if they’ve contracted COVID-19? 

While people are much more likely to get either a cold or flu, public health professionals will\ warn residents to treat every cough like it’s the coronavirus.

“There’s very little difference in the actual physical symptoms that you would see for COVID versus the flu,” said Dr. Christopher Colbert, assistant program director at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s emergency medicine residency program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists common symptoms of each COVID-19 and influenza. 

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Loss of taste or smell is one hallmark of COVID-19 the CDC said is not typical of influenza. 

Colbert said Illinoisans should make sure to a flu shot this flu season.

“We haven’t gotten to the ‘peak time,’ but our recommendation is to get the flu vaccine,” he said, adding that it would potentially leave more hospital beds to people suffering from a COVID-19 infection if fewer influenza cases occurred. 

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