If you’re not feeling well, you may be worried you have COVID-19 or another illness. The coronavirus, colds, flu and other viruses are spreading at the same time and have some overlapping symptoms. Find out what to do if you’re sick.
What are signs and symptoms of COVID-19, the flu and colds?
While these illnesses share many of the same symptoms, there are usually some differences in how these symptoms appear. For example, cold and COVID-19 symptoms may come on gradually over time, whereas the flu’s onset is usually sudden. A person with the flu develops symptoms 1 to 4 days after infection. A person with COVID-19 typically develops symptoms 5 days after being infected. But symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection.
“It’s important not to discount symptoms, even if they’re mild,” said Daniel Solomon, MD, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It’s actually most common that people have mild COVID-19 symptoms, but it’s still important to get tested so that we can give thoughtful guidance about quarantine, isolation and contact tracing in order to keep everyone around us safe.”
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of the illnesses below.
What should you do if you’re sick?
“The overlap is the real challenge here because you can have any number of symptoms that could be COVID,” said Dr. Solomon. “But it could also be the flu, or it could be any other respiratory virus.”
Even if you have mild symptoms, speak with your health care provider and get tested.
“It’s important to get testing when you have symptoms,” Dr. Solomon added. “Call your health care provider. They can place an order for a test that allows you to get tested without coming into a health care setting and putting others at risk. That’s usually a drive-thru test and it’s convenient.”