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Corona virus, cold or flu: how to tell the difference

Corona virus, cold or flu: how to tell the difference



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Related symptoms: How COVID-19, flu and cold differ

With the ever-expanding corona virus, many people become more afraid of having infected themselves with it. Then you quickly think of COVID-19 for complaints such as scratching your throat or coughing. But the symptoms can also indicate a flu or cold. How can the diseases be distinguished?

"Most of the respiratory infections with which those affected currently visit their doctor's offices can still be traced back to the flu (influenza) or colds," explains the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in a message. But many people are currently thinking primarily of the new corona virus when it comes to symptoms such as fever or cough. In order to combat your own insecurity, it can be helpful to know the differences between the illnesses.

Health risk is rated as high

The spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, continues to advance. In Germany, more than 7,500 people have already been infected with the virus (as of March 17th, 2020).

"In some of the cases, the course of the disease is difficult, and fatal course of the disease also occurs," explains the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on its website.

According to the RKI, the overall risk to the health of the population in Germany is currently rated as high. However, this risk varies from region to region.

According to the experts, the likelihood of serious illnesses increases with age and existing medical conditions.

Given the development, it is not surprising that more and more people are afraid of an infection and are quick to think of COVID-19 for complaints such as scratching their throat and fever.

Recognizing the disease and distinguishing it from similar respiratory diseases is difficult even for doctors because the symptoms are non-specific and can also be overlaid by symptoms of other diseases.

A laboratory test can offer security - but in many places these tests are hardly available. In addition, there are now indications that some tests have not identified infections.

Complaints are similar

The symptoms of a coronavirus infection are very similar to those of the flu. This often leads to fever and (dry) cough in sick people.

Body pain is less common with COVID-19 than with influenza. Even with shortness of breath, corona and the flu differ. While you sometimes suffer from the coronavirus, this symptom does not occur with influenza.

It is easier to distinguish a cold from a coronavirus infection. For example, a cold rarely leads to a fever.

Sneezing and runny nose, on the other hand, are often accompanied by a cold, with COVID-19 these complaints are rare or do not occur at all.

The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) points out further symptoms on its portal "infektionsschutz.de" which have been observed with corona infections: muscle pain, sore throat and headache. Some sufferers also experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

New symptoms discovered

It is also interesting to see what a scientist discovered when examining people in the district of Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is particularly affected by COVID-19.

According to a report by the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", Bonn's virologist Hendrik Streeck has identified new symptoms of infection with the corona virus.

According to the expert, almost a third of those infected reported a loss of smell and taste for several days. "It goes so far that a mother could not smell the full diaper of her child," the head of the institute for virology at the University Hospital Bonn told the "FAZ".

"Others could no longer smell their shampoo, and food started to taste bland."

Protect against infection

As with flu and other respiratory diseases, compliance with the rules of coughing and sneezing, good hand hygiene and distance from the sick (about 1 to 2 meters) also protect against transmission of the new coronavirus, explains the BZgA.

Shaking hands should also be avoided.

In general, people who have respiratory symptoms, i.e. signs of the disease in the area of ​​the respiratory tract, should stay at home if possible. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


Video: Wellness 101 Show - Coronavirus, Allergies or Cold u0026 Flu - How to Tell the Difference? (August 2022).