Dr. Erica Stokes, Baptist Health Family Clinic-Otter Creek During this time of year, more and more people are starting to feel symptoms of fall allergies, cold, flu, and of course, COVID-19. Unfortunately, all of these illnesses can have similar symptoms, including cough, fatigue, headaches, runny nose, sore throat and more. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, the big question is—how do you know which illness you have?
Symptom Overlap – Which Symptoms Correspond to Which Illnesses?It can be tricky to tell because there is so much overlap. A lot of times, you may have some congestion or sore throat, and those symptoms do overlap. However, we tend to see fever more commonly with flu, and it tends to be sudden onset. You may feel as though it hits you out of the blue. With COVID-19, fever may be a little slower to onset. For seasonal allergies, you may be accustomed to experiencing those same symptoms around this time of year, and it can follow that same pattern you’re used to. Ultimately, it can be challenging to tell the difference from symptoms alone. For a more in-depth look at typical symptoms by ailment, the following chart breaks it down.
|Symptoms begin within 14 days of exposure. Length of symptoms varies, but often 10 days or more.||Symptoms begin abruptly. Symptoms last 5-7 days.||Symptoms begin gradually. Symptoms last 3-10 days.||Symptoms begin gradually. Symptoms are seasonal.|
|Exposure to germs||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Nasal Congestion/ Runny Nose||Less Common||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Nausea/Vomiting/ Diarrhea||Sometimes||Less Common||Less Common||Less Common|
|Shortness of breath||Yes||Yes||Less Common||Sometimes|
|Loss of taste or smell||Yes||Sometimes||Sometimes||Less Common|