We’ve all been there: with every cough and sneeze, you wonder: Is this allergies, a cold, or is it the coronavirus? In this article, our medical experts break down the differences so you can tell the difference between the common cold and the novel coronavirus.
Although both share some of the same symptoms and are related since they are both from the same family of Viruses, they are different in other symptoms and in how sick people can become. COVID-19 is a virus that we have not seen in the past, which is why it is called Novel(new).
The common cold is caused by roughly 4 different strains from the same family of Viruses. These cause mild symptoms, which tend to be more upper respiratory in nature and typically occur in the fall or in the winter months. Typical cold symptoms are runny or stuffy nose, mild cough, mild fatigue, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat, aches and pains, and low-grade fever if any. Most people with cold have symptoms that last less than 7 days. These tend to be very mild symptoms and people who have the typical seasonal cold do not become very ill. There currently is no cure for the common cold beyond the treating of symptoms. There is also no established vaccine.
Coronavirus (COVID 19) can infect people and up to 40-50% of them may not have any symptoms at all. This means although they do not get sick, they can transmit the virus to other people as it is highly contagious. Symptoms may also appear from 2 days after exposure up to 14 days after exposure. Coronavirus may affect more than just the respiratory tract which is typically what is seen with the common cold. Coronavirus can also affect other organ systems in your body, that is why some of these symptoms are different. Coronavirus symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat, aches and pains, loss of taste or smell, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and headache however not all of these symptoms may manifest. If sick with Coronavirus symptoms can last up to 10-14 days. About 80% of people who have symptoms have a milder experience while 20% may get very sick. People with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, a compromised immune system, and diabetes seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. There is currently no treatment for COVID-19 when patients have mild or moderate symptoms but there are different treatment modalities that patients who get admitted to a Hospital may receive. Currently, there are multiple vaccines in development and should be available by the end of this year and the beginning of next year.
No matter your current state of health, everyone should take every precaution to prevent personal infection and possible transmission to others. Regular use of face masks and alcohol-based sanitizer of 60% or higher are both greats common practices. Social distancing when possible can also greatly diminish the risk of exposure. If you or a loved one is concerned about possible exposer, we recommend receiving a test as soon as possible. You can get a test at one of our Trusted ER locations or our Trusted Medical COVID-19 testing center. We highly encourage people to stay safe as we navigate this uncertain time together.
Have you faced this confusion? Share this article so people know how to differentiate: Common Cold vs Coronavirus?