Influenza or COVID-19, What’s the Difference?
Just as flu season started winding down in the region, COVID-19 showed up. Both influenza and COVID-19 can be transmitted in the same ways and both can present in the same ways. They share many similarities, but many differences as well.
Both influenza and COVID-19 can
- Cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
- Be mild or severe, but rarely fatal
- Result in pneumonia
- Be spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing or talking, and both can be spread before symptoms appear.
Now that you know the similarities, here’s a look at the differences between the flu and COVID-19.
- The flu can be caused by a number of different strains of influenza viruses.
- COVID-19 is caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus.
- The flu and COVID-19 can both be spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks
- COVID-19 might also be spread through the air when tiny droplets hang in the air even after the infected person leaves the room.
- Antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, can address some flu symptoms and possibly shorten its duration.
- Testing continues on antiviral medications for COVID-19 to see if they can address the symptoms.
- A flu shot can prevent some of the dangerous types of flu, or reduce the severity if it’s contracted.
- Work continues on a COVID-19 vaccine, but there is none available at this time.
Using the term “coronavirus” can cause confusion as well. COVID-19 is a coronavirus, but not the only one. COVID-19 specifies a certain strain of a coronavirus (COronaVIrus Disease-2019 = COVID-19).
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s, and seven of them can infect people, including three that made headlines over the years:
People around the world often get infected with four other common human coronaviruses – 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1. In fact, most people get infected with one of these at some point in their life. They present like the common cold, with mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses.
The flu and any coronavirus, including COVID-19, may be prevented by frequent, thorough hand washing, coughing into your elbow, staying home when sick and limiting contact with infected people.
To see the latest information about COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 Resource Page on Avera.org.