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It’s that time of year when the sniffles are going around and people often wonder what it could be — the Flu, Cold, or COVID-19, all of which are highly contagious viruses. Since these three viruses all share similar symptoms, it can be hard for people to determine which they may have.

So, to be fully prepared for Flu, Cold, and COVID-19 season – you may want to know how to distinguish the differences between the three, their signs and symptoms, and what preventive actions can be taken.

The Flu vs COVID-19

While the Flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses (Influenza vs SAS-CoV-2), both can present very similar symptoms such as coughing, congestion, fever, body aches, sore throat, and headaches. Both also spread similarly and are airborne, meaning they are transmitted from person to person by small particles spread in the air by sneezing, coughing, talking, and more. When this happens, anyone nearby can be infected and those infected typically won’t experience symptoms until 1 to 14 days after exposure. Those infected with the Flu may show symptoms quicker, 1 to 4 days after exposure, and those infected with COVID-19 may show symptoms even later — 5 to 14 days after exposure. The best way to determine which virus you have is by getting tested. At Aylo Health, your provider can test you for both the Flu and COVID-19 during an office visit.

The Flu vs the Cold

The common Cold and Flu both present themselves as respiratory illnesses, however, they are also caused by two different viruses (Influenza vs Rhinovirus). Both viruses cause similar symptoms, so a diagnosis on purely “symptoms” can be quite difficult. The Flu is generally much worse than the common Cold and the symptoms are far more frequent and intense. The Cold, on the other hand, is much milder than the Flu and is usually less intense – with people more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. However, one of the biggest and most critical differences is that Influenza can lead to other severe complications. Some of these may include pneumonia and bacterial infections that can lead to hospitalizations.

Effective Preventive Measures from Winter Viruses

The first and most effective step to protect yourself and others is to get the flu shot, COVID-19 vaccine and/or COVID-19 booster — if needed. Statistics prove that being protected by these vaccines will lead to less severe cases of these viruses and could potentially prevent them entirely. The COVID-19 vaccine and Flu shot are recommended for anyone aged 6 months and up. The Flu shot can be easily administered at any of our Aylo Health locations as a walk-in or during your next appointment. 

However, a Flu shot and COVID vaccine aren’t the only ways to prevent the Influenza and COVID-19 viruses. Something as simple as washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is also one of your best methods of protection, along with wearing a mask and social distancing — especially if you or someone you’ve been exposed to is experiencing symptoms.

Prevention goes beyond oneself, though it’s also very important to limit the spread of germs and viruses if you do happen to be infected. If you are diagnosed with the Flu or COVID-19, it’s very important to make sure you avoid being around people who aren’t sick; such as your friends, co-workers, classmates, and the elderly. While recovering from the Cold, Flu, or COVID-19, be sure to cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and always wash your hands afterward.

Take Action

Winter is the prime season for the Cold and Flu since both viruses thrive best in the colder months, therefore leading to more transmissions. Flu season typically starts in October and peaks between December and February, whereas the Cold can last until May. It is also highly possible to be infected with both the Flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Protect yourself and the ones you love by asking for your Flu shot at your next appointment or walk into any of our Aylo Health offices to receive yours.

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