Coast Dental Blog
COVID-19, flu, strep or common cold? How to tell the difference.

Cold and flu season is approaching during an ongoing pandemic, At the first sign of any symptoms, you may ask yourself: “Do I have COVID-19? Common cold? The flu?

Understanding your symptoms can be a challenge. Not everyone with the same illness experience the same symptoms.

Here’s what you should know about COVID-19, the flu, strep and common cold

  • Cold symptoms include stuffy nose, congestion and sneezing.
  • Strep throat symptoms include white spots on your tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, fever, and lack of cough.
  • Flu symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, sore throat and headache.
  • COVID-19 shares a lot of symptoms with the flu, but loss of smell and taste are specific to COVID-19. There are tests available for strep throat (throat swab), COVID-19 and the flu (nasal swab). A diagnosis is important to determine your treatment plan. Accurate and timely diagnosis is even more important for the elderly and very young, who are generally at a much higher risk of life-threatening complications.

Once you receive a diagnosis from a physician or health care provider most people simply need increased fluid intake, rest, fever-reducers (not aspirin!) and pain relievers.

Other treatments include:

  • antiviral medications to shorten the course of (or even prevent) the flu.
  • antibiotics to treat strep throat (but not COVID-19, the common cold or other viral illnesses).
  • prescription cough medication (and even inhalers) if your diagnosis is bronchitis or asthma.
  • monoclonal antibodies (by IV infusion) for COVID-19 may be of value to patients at high risk of complications. Unproven treatments (like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine) are NOT advisable.
  • over-the-counter medications and home remedies.

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