Flu Vs. COVID-19 Symptoms – What You Need to Know

Sep 08, 2022

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Flu Vs. COVID-19 Symptoms – What You Need to Know


Around this time of the year, the incidence of the flu and common cold skyrocket. While this is completely normal, it can be challenging to differentiate these two infections from COVID-19.

In this article, we will cover a few key differences between the symptoms of the flu, the common cold, and COVID. We will also take a look at the risk of catching both viruses.

The different clinical presentations of the flu versus COVID-19

The table below highlights the symptoms of the flu, common cold, and COVID-19:

The differences between the flu and COVID-19

After covering the shared features between the flu and COVID, let us see how the two conditions differ:

Risk of severe illness – The CDC believes that COVID-19 is more likely to lead to severe illness. This is possible even in younger, healthy people. Long COVID is another severe complication that occurs with COVID. 

The type of complications Those with the flu are at a higher risk of developing a bacterial infection compared to COVID patients. With that said, the risk of inflammatory syndrome, blood clots, and post-infection complications are way higher with COVID.

How contagious the two viruses are – As you may know, COVID is more contagious than the flu. While the flu may slightly spread during a gathering event, COVID can easily infect dozens of people.

Available treatments – In the past, there have been a few specific treatments to address certain variants of the flu. As for COVID, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of certain therapies like Paxlovid for emergency use. However, these treatments have yet to receive FDA approval. Paxlovid is used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms in adults and children 12 yrs and older who meet the criteria for it. More information on Paxlovid can be found here: Paxlovid information

Providers at Memorial Health Urgent Care and Infusions can prescribe Paxlovid for manamgement of covid symtoms for patients that test positive and meet the criteria for it, to learn more visit Urgent care services

Vaccines – The FDA has only approved three vaccines for COVID-19. For the flu, however, we see several vaccinations emerge each year. This is due to the incredibly rapid rate of mutations that the flu virus undergoes.

How likely are you to get COVID and the Flu at the same time?

In a 2021 paper, researchers found that 0.4% of cases on the American continent develop both viruses. In Asia, the rate is higher, reaching up to 4.5%.

The authors of this paper stated that the worldwide rate is still unknown. This is because many countries do not have relevant data. With that said, the authors believe that around 1.2% of people with COVID may also have the flu at the same time.

In another study, researchers screened 1,000 people with COVID to see whether they also had the flu. Only 6 people screened positive. This shows that Flurona is relatively rare. However, more studies are necessary before drawing any conclusions.

Takeaway message

The flu and COVID are both viral infections that cause similar symptoms. However, the severity of the latter is considerably higher. The providers at Memorial Health Urgent Care and Infusions have the experience and testing supplies to help diagnose and treat both flu and covid illness. To learn more about our services visit our website

We hope that this article managed to highlight the key differences between the flu and COVID. If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.