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Feeling sick? Don't assume it's not COVID-19

Posted on Nov. 24, 2020 ( comments)

During a normal fall and winter, it can be hard to tell if your cough, aches and stuffy nose are due to a cold or the flu. This year, it's going to be even more difficult, with COVID-19 still spreading rapidly locally and worldwide.

In the early days of the outbreak, there were a handful of specific symptoms thought to point to COVID-19. But today, the list of symptoms you may experience from the virus has grown, and there's a lot of overlap in symptoms that could point to a cold, or the flu, or COVID-19 — or even allergies.

Our symptom comparison chart shows how common a lot of symptoms are across these respiratory ailments (Select the image below to open a full-size chart):

COVID-Flu-Cold comparison chart_112020 Image
Click to download

Bottom line? Although there are some symptom differences and the timing of when you might get sick and how long you might be sick for can vary, there really isn't any definitive way to tell by yourself what's causing your symptoms.

So, if you develop any of these symptoms, wear a mask, even at home, stay away from others as much as you can and talk to your health care provider right away to find out if you should be tested for COVID-19. If you don't have a regular doctor, an e-visit through MultiCare's Indigo Online Care can provide you with an assessment and direct you to a COVID-19 testing location if needed.

Virtual assessment for children is also available through Mary Bridge Childrern's virtual urgent care service.


This article is part of our ongoing "Safe(r) Holidays" series. View the full series at our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Posted in: COVID-19

About The Author

MultiCare Health System
MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 20,000 team members, including employees, providers and volunteers. Learn more. More stories by this author
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