Covid-19 and the Flu: Similarities and Differences
Share this article:
With summer time behind us and the winter months approaching for those of us in the northern hemisphere, flu season is on the horizon. Consequently, many people are concerned about how we will deal with both the flu and Covid-19 together. In the UK, coronavirus daily cases, hospital admissions and daily deaths are on the rise, in a worrying upwards trend that is coinciding with the return of cold weather.
Coronavirus and the flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses. However, they are caused by different viruses (Covid-19 is caused by an infection called SARS-CoV-2 and the flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses). Many of the symptoms of these two viruses are shared and therefore it can be hard to tell the difference between the two, and may require a test to confirm diagnosis. In this article, we will explore how you can identify the differences and similarities between the flu and Covid-19.
Symptoms that the flu and Covid-19 share include:
- Sore throat
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain or body aches
__A key difference in symptoms between the two is that Covid-19 can cause a change in or loss of taste or smell. __
When do symptoms of Covid-19 and the flu develop?
Symptoms of both Covid-19 and the flu can appear one or more days between a person being infected to when they start to experience symptoms. However, coronavirus symptoms can take longer to develop than those of the flu. The flu typically takes anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection to develop systems, whereas Covid-19 symptoms develop typically 5 days after being infected, but can appear as early as 2 days after infection or even up to 14 days.
Both flu and Covid-19 can be spread by someone at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms, and if someone has coronavirus they may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu - however this is still under investigation. For the flu, adults appear to be more contagious during the initial 3-4 days of showing symptoms, but can remain contagious for up to 7 days. Infants and vulnerable people with weakened immune systems can be contagious to the flu for longer periods of time. Covid-19 can be spread up to 2 days before symptoms are exposed and can remain contagious for up to at least 10 days after symptoms first appear. It is even possible for people to spread Covid-19 who are asymptomatic or if their symptoms have declined after testing positive for at least 10 days.
How do Covid-19 and the flu spread?
There are similarities between how the flu and Covid-19 are spread, such close contact from person-to-person, spread by droplets made when people who are infected cough, talk or sneeze. The droplets are then inhaled by others or can land in the mouth or nose. The illnesses can also be spread by people picking them up on surfaces that have previously been touched by someone infected, and then touching their face. However, even though both the flu and coronavirus are spread in similar ways, Covid-19 is more susceptible to people of certain ages and populations than the flu, and can be spread more quickly and easily to large numbers of people through superspreaders.
Certain people are at more high-risk for severe illness from both Covid-19 and flu, including pregnant people, people with underlying health conditions, and older adults. Flu is higher risk for healthy children compared to Covid-19, and children with underlying health conditions are at increased risk for both.
What are the complications of the flu or Covid-19?
__The complications produced by both flu and Covid-19 can include: __
- Respiratory failure
With the flu, most people are likely to recover in a couple of days to two weeks, with some developing some of the complications listed above. Covid-19 can cause more complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and blood clots.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, needing to travel abroad, or get back to the office, Qured is here to help. We offer at-home Covid-19 PCR tests that can tell you if you have the virus.
Suscribe to the Qured newsletter
Enter your email address to receive the latest news and medical tips from Qured.