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How to Tell the Difference Between the Flu & COVID19

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Influenza and COVID19 have a number of overlapping symptoms which could make it difficult to tell them apart.

According to the CDC, both the Flu and COVID can have the following symptoms:



difficulty breathing


Sore throat

Runny/stuffy nose

Muscle pain or body aches


Gastrointestinal symptoms

While the above symptoms often occur in both the flu and in COVID, symptoms that can set the two apart include a change or loss in taste or smell. A change/loss of taste or smell is not common with the flu but may occur in COVID patients.

There are other differences/similarities as well. With influenza, symptoms tend to develop 1-4 days after infection whereas COVID symptoms may appear anywhere from 2-14 days after infection.

Both COVID and the Flu are spread the same way- through upper respiratory droplets made when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks as well as person-person contact.

In addition, both the Flu and COVID can have severe complications. It should be noted, however, that COVID can lead to MISC- Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Kids and blood clots in blood vessels and organs. These complications appear to be unique to COVID.

I hope this is helpful! Dr. Jen

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