The difference between COVID-19 and Influenza

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As one of the leading healthcare providers in our community, we would like to address some of the misinformation regarding COVID-19 vs. Influenza. We understand that filtering through the plethora of information can be overwhelming. At Tri-State Memorial Hospital we would like to continue to be a resource for our community regarding COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 just like the flu?
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both viral infections and can be easily spread to others. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar – fever, cough, fatigue, body aches – they are caused by different viruses.

COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe and may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Those with the flu typically feel sickest during the first week of illness. With COVID-19, people may feel the worst during the second or third week, and they may be sick for a longer period of time.
Both the flu and COVID-19 spread through droplets from the nose and mouth.

INFLUENZA

  • What are the symptoms?
    • Often, symptoms are fever, cough, aches and pains, and headaches.
    • Sometimes, symptoms are fatigue, stuffy/runny nose, diarrhea (children), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • When do symptoms appear?
    1-4 days after infection.
  • How long are you contagious? 
    1 day before symptoms appear and up to 7 days after.
  • How does it spread?
    Person-to-Person
  • How can I prevent illness?
    A flu shot can help protect you and your family from most strains of the flu. Social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand washing can also help with prevention of the flu.
  • What are the complications for this illness?
    Flu can turn into pneumonia and can be fatal in severe cases.
  • What about recovery and treatment?
    Recovery can last 2-14 days. Rest, fever reducers, and antiviral medicines can reduce the amount of time you have the flu and help prevent complications.

COVID-19

  • What are the symptoms? 
    • Often, symptoms are fever, cough, aches and pains, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. 
    • Somtimes, symptoms are headaches, fatigue, stuffy/runny nose, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, diarrhea.
  • When do symptoms appear?
    2-14 days after infection
  • How long are you contagious?
    2 days before symptoms appear and up to 10 days after
  • How does it spread?
    Person-to-Person
  • How can I prevent illness?
    Social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand washing are some ways to protect against COVID-19.
  • What are the complications for this illness?
    COVID-19 can result in pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, lasting damage to kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain, and in some cases can be fatal.
  • What about recovery and treatment?
    Recovery can last up to 2 weeks in mild cases and up to 6 weeks in severe cases. Rest, fever reducers, and cough medicine can help in mild cases; in severe cases you may need to be hospitalized.

For more information on COVID-19 and the flu visit the CDC’s page: Similarities and Differences Between flu and COVID-19.

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