Do you have COVID-19 or the Common Cold?

Date: 26 March 2021
Written by: KLIHC

What’s The Difference?

Before we break down how COVID differs from the common cold, it is important to note that both
are caused by viruses. The one that brought about COVID in 2019 is called SARS-CoV-2. By that
same token, coronaviruses are not new and have existed for a long time; they have also caused other diseases like the severe acute respiratory syndrome otherwise known as SARS — the first global outbreak that emerged in 2003, spanning over a year.

Key Differences

– Spreads more easily
– Caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus

– Caused by influenza A and B viruses

Although COVID-19 and the flu have their key differences, they do cause similar symptoms that
can range anywhere from mild to severe and because of the stark similarities, it may be hard to
diagnose which condition you have based on symptoms alone. Hence, a testing may be done to
accurately come up with a diagnosis. Now that you are aware of the key differences and
similarities between COVID-19 and the flu, you can read the diagrams below to help distinguish
the symptoms and be more prepared in the future!

Signs and Symptoms


Covid-19 and the flu have similar (common) symptoms and they include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches


A person with flu may suffer mild to severe illness where else those tested positive for COVID-19 may experience a loss of taste or smell, including the symptoms listed above.

So – Should you get checked or do you simply need a good night’s rest?

The answer is: if you have some of the COMMON symptoms but still have your sense of smell and taste, you could try to get a good night’s rest and see if they abate after a few days. HOWEVER, if you find that you’ve recently lost your sense of smell and taste (while having some of the common symptoms), then immediately get checked!

How Do They Spread?


The flu and COVID-19 can spread via human transmission as well as by airborne particles when
an infected person’s respiratory droplets remain in the air for minutes to hours after they leave a
place. Essentially, those who are within 6 feet from an infected person have the highest risk of
being infected when they inhale the droplets! This can also be exacerbated if they do not practice
good hygiene practices; for example, touching a contaminated surface and then immediately
touching their faces, nose, or mouth, not sanitizing or wearing their masks in public; hence it is
important to wash your hands with soap and water or to sanitize often when in public.


COVID-19 is certainly more contagious and can affect certain groups of people more than the flu,
spreads more quickly and easily, and can result in a continuous spread of the virus!

Who Is At Risk For Severe Illnesses?


The people who are more susceptible to severe illnesses and complications from COVID-19 and
the flu are people with an existing medical condition(s), pregnant people and older adults.


Young children are at higher risk of severe illnesses from flu where else children aged 7 and above
are more at risk of contracting COVID-19. On the same note, those who have been infected with
COVID have also been found to have Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a condition
where parts of their body become inflamed. They usually include the heart, kidneys, lungs, brain,
skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. The good news is that the children who were tested positive
with MIS-C had made gradual improvements!

What Are The Complications?


  • Both COVID-19 and the flu can result in complications that include and not limited to:
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Sepsis
  • Cardiac injury like heart attacks and stroke
  • Multiple organ failure (Ex: kidney failure, respiratory failure)
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues


Those with a flu usually recover within a few days, or less than a week. COVID positive patients
however go on to develop complications such as blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs,
heart, legs or brain. And in some cases, MIS-C in children.

Others Blog