How to tell if you have COVID-19 or the Flu

Updated: Sep. 28, 2020 at 11:01 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Flu season is here, and now with COVID-19, you may find yourself wondering if your fever is from the flu or COVID-19. WAFF went to the experts to find out how to tell the difference.

Dr. Hafsa Siddiqui is an Infectious Disease Specialist with Huntsville Hospital, and she said many symptoms from the Flu and COVID-19 overlap.

“Symptoms are having fever, body aches and pains," Dr. Siddiqui said. "Generalized fatigue, sore throat, headache, sometimes difficulty breathing, or a runny nose are other symptoms.”

Dr. Siddiqui said symptoms from COVID-19 may be even more jarring.

“A patient will sometimes lose their sense of smell or taste," she said. "These are two symptoms we have not seen with flu.”

If you have a cough though, it could be signs of either.

“When you see a cough with viral infection including Flu and COVID-19 it’s a dry cough. It’s not a productive cough," Dr. Siddiqui said.

The symptoms for COVID-19 start later, according to Dr. Siddiqui.

“The Flu, if you get exposed you generally get symptoms in one to four days' however, in COVID-19 it takes five to seven days after you get exposed to develop symptoms," she said.

So when do you need to be tested?

Dr. Siddiqui said there’s only one way to know for sure what type of virus you have and that’s through testing. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, COVID-19 is also considered more contagious than flu viruses among certain populations and age groups.

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