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How to tell the difference between Covid-19, common cold and flu


Many people are worried about how they are going to be able to tell the difference between Covid-19, common cold, and flu.

some of the symptoms are similar with all the three conditions, so its difficult to know which it is and there is a lot of nervousness surrounding this issue. Chief medical officer at Docterlink Mr Ben Littlewood said that having a runny nose is a big sign that what you have is a cold. And where as Covid-19 has more specific symptoms, the flu usually affect the whole body.

Speaking to Metro, Dr Ravi Tomar , a GP at the portland medical practices said that the challenge with these upper respiratory is that they can all present  symptoms such as cough,sore throat, aches and pain.

However the predominating symptoms will help one differentiate between each. With a common cold , less of the body is affected with the symptoms focussed more on the mouth and nose;with the flu- you would expect the body as a whole to mainly be affected; With Covid- the persistent fever, dry cough and specific features like the loss in taste or smell can suggest this may be the cause.

NHS says that the main symptoms of corona virus are;

a high temperature , this means you feel hot to the touch of chest or back.

a new continuous cough, this means coughing a lot for more than one hour or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.

a loss or change to your sense of  taste or smell, this means you've noticed you can not smell or taste anything or things taste or smell different than normal.

Most people with Corona Virus have atleast one of these symptoms.

The NHS says flu symptoms can include

a sudden fever, a temperature of 38C and above

an aching body

feeling tied or exhausted

a dry cough

a sore throat

a headache 

difficulty sleeping

loss of appetite

diarrhoea and tummy pain

feeling sick and being sick

The NHS says cold symptoms come on gradually and can include:

a blocked or runny nose

a sore throat 


muscles aches



a raised temperature

pressure in your ears and face

loss of taste and smell.

Doctors have stressed that if you are not sure, You should seek medical attention.


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