COVID and flu share similar symptoms, health experts urge testing
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Almost identical in symptoms, doctors say the only way to accurately tell the difference between COVID and influenza is to get tested.
“For the most part, people who are having influenza seem to have higher fevers,” Dr. Mary Rademaker, Executive Medical Director for Norton Immediate Care Centers said. “But to try and say there’s a hard and fast rule, I don’t think we can make one.”
Pages on the CDC website list similarities between COVID and the flu. Shared symptoms include fever, chills, muscle pain, a runny nose, cough and sore throat.
Both can also produce shortness of breath and fatigue, as well as headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. Both can also affect your sense of taste or smell, though that is much more likely to happen with COVID.
“So it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the symptoms,” Dr. Mark Burns, UofL Infectious Disease Specialist said. “And especially now we have an extremely contagious disease variant like omicron. I just recommend to anybody, if there’s any doubt get tested.”
Burns said there are specific times when testing is important.
“If a person thinks they’ve been exposed, then they need to be tested,” Burns said. “If a person starts having symptoms, and again you can’t really tell, it’s very difficult to tell the difference. At that point I recommend getting tested.”
There is a consistent difference between the two respiratory ailments and it is the speed in which symptoms can appear.
According to the CDC, the flu comes on much more quickly, symptoms appear just one to four days after infection.
However, with COVID, the timing of symptoms can be less predictable, ranging from two days from time of infection to 14 days.
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