Is It a Cold or Flu Or Covid-19 – Understanding the Difference Among the 3 Viral Illnesses

Is It a Cold or Flu Or Covid-19 – Understanding the Difference Among the 3 Viral Illnesses

The flu season is upon us again this time of the year. We have to deal with the flu, colds, respiratory infections, or even possibly COVID19. Is It a Cold or Flu Or Covid-19; How can we understand the difference?

Millions of people in the U.S. succumb to a cold or flu infection annually. Often, these different viruses and infections have shared very similar symptoms. If you catch a cold or the flu, you may experience watery eyes, stuffy or runny nose, fever, headache, coughing, and malaise. Colds and cases of flu are not the same. However, they are two different ailments that affect the body in different ways. What are the different symptoms?

Flu and the common cold are both considered respiratory illnesses. Cold symptoms are generally milder than flu symptoms. People with colds usually have stuffy and/or runny nose. However, colds don’t usually do not lead to health complications such as bacterial infections, pneumonia, lung problems, or hospitalization.

High Body Temperature / Fever

When people catch the flu, they may experience a fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, muscle aches & body aches, headaches, fatigue. In some extreme cases, people may even experience vomiting, stomach pains, and excess bowel problems. It’s important to know that not every flu will be accompanied by a fever.

With cold infections, it typically does not cause a fever. In most cases, catching a cold or the flu may cause people to feel extreme fatigue, and often accompanied by aches and pains. 

How is the Flu Virus Spread?

Researchers and experts believe that flu viruses spread by tiny droplets made when people sneeze, talk, cough. These droplets that carry the flu virus can land in the noses or mouths of people who are nearby. People can also get the flu virus by touching objects or surfaces that has the flu virus on it, then touching their face, mouth, nose, or rubbing their eyes. 

Mask wearing is a twofold issue. It helps if masks are clean and worn in public situations without repeatedly adjusting and touching your face. If you wear the same mask over and over, you run the risk of a bacterial infection that can lead to pneumonia. The take away is to use masks properly, cover your mouth AND nose, either change disposable masks frequently, and wash cloth masks daily.


Cold infections’ duration is usually shorter than that of the flu infection. People that catch a cold infection may see the symptoms clear up within 3-7 days, whereas a flu infection can take up to two weeks to recover from. The longer duration of the flu virus may mean you’ll feel sick for a longer period and possibly experience more health complications.


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infections have a faster onset than cold infections. Flu infection may seemingly come out nowhere. You may be feeling fine one day, only to wake up the next morning with severe symptoms. Cold infections have a longer onset. The symptoms of a cold infection usually take a few days to emerge. 


Flu Vaccines can lower the risk of flu infections and other health complications caused by flu viruses. Each year, a new vaccine is released to protect against the current strain of the flu virus. 

Cold infections are also caused by viruses. However, there isn’t a vaccine available to protect against them. There are 200+ viruses that cause cold infections. Many of these viruses can change and mutate. As a result, scientists and medical experts have not created a vaccine to fight against cold viruses.

The Good News of Prevention

  • Wash your hands often
  • Wipe and disinfect surfaces
  • Try not to touch for your face with your hands unless you wash it first with antibacterial soap and water
  • Change or wash your mask often to prevent self-inflicted bacterial infections
  • Eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables will help your body fight against the cold and flu viruses
  • Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash that is labeled to kill bacteria and viruses in the mouth

In addition, it will help shorten the duration of the colds and flu symptoms.

When people are sick from the cold and flu viruses, eating the proper foods not only helps you fight the flu but they build up your immune system’s response giving you the ability to fight off other maladies, such as colds and sore throats. 

Here are some of the best foods that will provide you with super nutrients for you to add to your menu to help fight the flu:

  • Berries
  • Beets
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Chicken broth and/or vegetable broth
  • Ginger
  • Green tea
  • Garlic
  • Leafy greens
  • Onions
  • Oranges

Covid-19 Symptoms – Is It a Cold or Flu Or Covid-19
This information is directly from the CDC.

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. People infected with the Covid-19 virus have had a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19.  According to the CDC and other health experts, Covid 19 virus will cause some of the following symptoms:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
The Covid-19 viruses can also cause severe respiratory symptoms that can affect the lungs, cause severe medical complications, and will cause a large number of deaths.
  • Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
*When you’re Not feeling well, get medical help and get tested immediately to determine if your symptoms are from the common cold, flu, or Covid-19.

Prevention for COVID-19

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and practice these actions to help prevent the spread of this illness.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, everyone should:
  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people (at least 6 feet)
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a clean mask when around others
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily
  • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others
We hope this information is valuable to you and your family. Please pass on to hopefully prevent someone you know from getting sick. From our Safety Toe Shoes USA family to yours.
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