Asheville Senior Care

In The Know This Fall: Key Differences Between COVID-19 & The Flu

This year’s flu season is coming up fast and you may have noticed several medical facilities and retail locations starting to advertise the flu shot.  With COVID-19 still prevalent across the US, it will be important to know and look for the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and common flu.  Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different and distinct viruses And with both of them being in the same category, they often show similar symptoms. Keep in mind that this information is valid and sourced from places like the CDC, Johns Hopkins, and Penn Medicine as of September 2020.

COVID-19 and Flu Similarities

This flu season you may notice that COVID-19 and Flu Similarities are quite close and some people may be asymptomatic while others will experience symptoms. These are common symptoms shared by both:

  • Fever or the feeling of feverish chills
  • A cough resonating from respiratory regions
  •  Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing - even without exercise
  •  Fatigue and tiredness
  •  Runny or stuffy nose - similar to allergies but accompanied by other symptoms

  •  Muscle pain and body aches

  •  Headaches


A few key differences between COVID-19 and Flu include:

Someone with COVID-19 may take longer to develop symptoms versus someone with a flu.  Typically a flu symptom will show up 1-4 days after infection, while COVID-19 symptoms may show up after 5 days and as late as 110 weeks after infection.

COVID-19 brings a longer contagin period than the flu - in fact a flu is generally contagious 1 day before showing symptoms and will last as long as 7 days.   COVID-19 patients generally are able to spread 2 days before showing symptoms and may take 10 days to really shake the contagious period.

Both COVID-19 and the Flu are affecting people that are at higher risk, which includes older adults, people with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women.  However, a key difference is that infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for the Flu and COVID-19.  

Common complications that COVID-19 and Flu patients are experiencing include: 

  •  Pneumonia
  •  Respiratory failure
  •  Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)
  •  Sepsis
  •  Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
  •  Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
  •  Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
  •  Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
  •  Secondary bacterial infections (i.e. infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)

During this year’s flu season be on the watch for common symptoms and take note of the key differences between COVID-19 and the Flu.

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