Flu V/S Covid -19: How is Flu Different From Covid-19


In the season of coronavirus outbreak, even the flu may resemble the coronavirus infection. As the starting of spring in any typical year brings out the flu season. And with the arrival of this flu season, sneezing, coughing, laziness, fatigue are the familiar problems. Hence, flu v/s covid-19 is a widely misunderstood concept in the current situation. 

However, there is no doubt we have to protect ourselves from covid-19 as well as from the flu. The flu can make us less immune, thus increasing the chances of infection.  

Flu shots are a good idea, to get rid of both the infections, this year. Flu shots for kids are more important for their health. 

How Is Flu Different From A Cold?

Flu v/s cold 

A lot of people can’t differentiate between cold and flu. Well, both conditions cause respiratory illness. And however, the symptoms are also quite similar. But the viruses are different for both illnesses. 

Some of the common symptoms of cold, that people often experiences are:-

  • Running nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body pain
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of the flu include:- 

Fever with chills:- the influenza virus of flu virus elevates your body temperature, which is called fever. The flu-related fever may range from 100 degrees F(37.8C) to 104 degrees F (40C). The chances of high fever are common in children. The fever is accompanied by chills and sweats. Mostly the fever stays up to one week or 4 days.

Cough:- flu leads to a dry, persistent cough. The symptoms of cough may worsen and can be painful. You may sometimes feel chest pain with shortness of breath. The flu-related cough may last for 2 weeks.

Running nose:- some allergic reactions may cause running and stuffy nose. And also an itching sensation might be felt. The virus causes inflammation of the nasal passage, by affecting the respiratory system. 

Pain in muscles:- Muscle pain is one of the common during flu. Pain in the arm, neck, back, and legs happens. Sometimes it makes the movement difficult, even the basic tasks. 

Fatigue:- well, the feeling of tiredness or unwell, is obvious during any illness. However, the viral illness will lead to certain fatigue. But can be overcome by taking care of food and medicines. 

In children, a feeling of nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea are more common than in adults. And it’s an important thing to note, that every person with the flu will have a fever. 

By rule, the flu symptoms are more severe than cold. When a common cold can’t cause you other health conditions, flu may cause some severe health conditions such as:-

  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Sinusitis
  • Ear infections 

In the complex overlapping of the symptom of cold, flu, and covid-19, the diagnosis is a must. There should be a careful diagnosis of the symptoms. 

If you are diagnosed with a cold, then the treatments will include:-

  • Over the counter medicines:- 
  • Hydration
  • Adequate rest

And if flu happens, certain antiviral drugs may help in reducing the severity of the illnesses. High fever and chills for more than 2 days can be an indication of the flu. 

How Is The Flu Different From Covid-19?

Flu v/s covid-19

Though, flu and covid-19 symptoms are similar enough. Some of the common symptoms of covid-19 include:-

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath 

Symptoms are quite similar, including cough, fever, and muscle pain or tiredness. But shortness of breath is not a typical symptom of the flu. 

The Flu Vaccination

The right and long-term way to treat the flu is by flu shots. Whether you are an adult or a child, you can’t hide from such viral infections, as they are communicable. So, firstly I will tell you about the viral influenza virus.

The influenza virus is a harmful virus, which spreads from one person to another. It comes from birds and animals like pigs. The new strain of virus came to Europe from Southeast Asia.  

In some rare cases, flu can be fatal. Especially for the old people aged above 65 years. Hence, the best way to prevent yourself from such an infection is a flu vaccination. 

The flu vaccines are available in the below-listed forms:- 

  • Injectable shot 
  • High dose injectable shot
  • Intradermal shot
  • Nasal spray

The more people will take the flu shot, lessens the chances of the spread of the virus. It will also help in developing herd immunity, by which those who can’t take the vaccine due to some medical reason, will be protected from the infection. 

How Do The Flu Shots Work?

To make the vaccine, the scientist researched the common strain of flu that might strike someone in the flu season. And once the vaccine enters your body, your immune system starts fighting with the foreign antigen and forms the antigen-antibody response. These antibodies are your protector. Not only during the first encounter with the pathogen but even after subsequent infections. 

Who Should Get The Flu Shot?

Any individual above 6 months should receive the vaccine as per the doctor’s recommendation. The chances of getting the infection are high amongst people having some pre-existing medical conditions. There is an entire list of the people who should take the vaccine:-

  • Children under age 5
  • Pregnant women
  • People above 18 who are under aspirin therapy
  • Anyone working in a nursing home or clinic
  • Caregivers 
  • Anyone with severe medical conditions 

Well, doctors recommend that, receive the flu shot by the end of October. During this time your body prepares for the flu, before the arrival of the flu season. 

It takes about 2 weeks to form antibodies after immunization. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both the flu and the covid-19 vaccine are important this year, as the chances of infections are high amid the outbreak. 

Is There Any Side Effect Of The Flu Shots? 

People are often afraid of vaccination, that they will fall sick. But this is not true. Though you may acquire some mild side effects resembling the infection. 

The vaccines consist of partially killed pathogens, which aren’t strong enough to cause you illness. You may feel mild fever, soreness around the site of injection, and body aches. But these signs are considered healthy as it shows that your body is responding and within a few days they disappear. 

How Long Does It Take To Recover From The Flu?

The majority of people recover within a week. But it may take several days to feel well. It’s common to feel tired and lazy during the infection. The recovery depends on the severity of the infection and the person’s immunity. 

Whenever such infections happen, try to stay home until you get free from fever for 24 hours. 

If you have the flu during the pandemic season, you must isolate yourself and take care of hygiene. 

  • Avoid contact with others
  • Cover your face
  • Disinfect the high touch areas 
  • Don’t share your food or things 

Treatment Of The Flu

The flu infection is not as severe and you can treat yourself without any prescription by following some simple tips:-

  • Wash your hands to prevent the infection to your family members 
  • Consume enough fluids such as water, soup, and low-sugar drinks
  • Cover your face with a mask and while going out
  • You can over the counter medicines for pain

In case you feel severe symptoms and can’t treat yourself, talk to your doctor. Contact your doctor if you are among the high-risk category of people.

The high-risk people include:- 

  • People with low immunity
  • Pregnant women 
  • People above 65 years 
  • Children under age 5
  • People with some pre-existing chronic illness
  • The native Americans 

In these categories of people, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications. 

Antiviral medications can only be taken when prescribed. You can’t take them over the counter being highly potent. 

OTC Medicines For Flu

Over-the-counter drugs can reduce the symptoms, but won’t treat the flu. If you have mild symptoms, you can take those medicines.

Decongestants:- this helps in blowing your nose, by breaking the mucus in your sinuses. Decongestants are available in several forms including nasal decongestants and oral decongestants. 

Cough suppressants:- cough is the most unpleasant symptom especially at night. Over-the-counter medicines such as lozenges and cough drops can help in giving relief to the mucus membrane. 

Expectorants:- this is useful when you have a lot of mucus or congestion in your chest. 

Over-the-counter medicines such as NyQuil contain several drugs in one pill. 

Natural Remedies For Flu

During the mild symptoms and early stage, it can be treatable by some easy home remedies including:-

  • Warm tea
  • Honey
  • Warm soup

When you feel so, start taking precautions and take as much rest as possible. Eat healthy and light. Sleep well, and keep your immunity strong. And by following natural flu remedies, you will reduce the early symptoms of flu. 


Flu, cold, and covid-19 are quite similar in symptoms, but their causes are different. A lot of people this time misunderstood the symptoms of covid-19 and flu. So, as flu v/s covid-19 we have discussed that both infections affect the respiratory system. But in the flu, you don’t experience shortness of breath while in covid-19 people experience short breaths. The influenza virus is the cause of flu and during the complex overlapping of the symptoms of flu and covid-19, the need for flu vaccination increases for everyone. Flu shots for kids are also an important thing nowadays when the covid cases are on peak.

Flu shots not only prevent your infection but will provide herd immunity. Early detection and treatment of flu are essential as they may be fatal in aged people. Keeping the care of hygiene and avoiding contact with others is a primary step to treatment. Some over-the-counter medications may help in relieving the cough and sore throat. While in severe cases, antiviral drugs are mandatory. Some natural remedies of flu may help in early symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What are differences between the seasonal flu and the coronavirus disease?

Well, seasonal flues are common and people are already immune to certain types of flues. Coronavirus strain is something different for which people are not immune and due to its mutating behavior, it’s hard to get immunity against it. That means people are more vulnerable to have covid-19 and few of them may suffer from severe symptoms. On a global account, only 1% died from seasonal flu from the total of those infected, while in the case of covid 3.4 % people died of the infection. 

Is COVID-19 caused by a virus or by bacteria?

Covid-19 doesn’t cause by a family of viruses known as Coronaviridae. Antibiotics do not work on viruses like coronavirus. Though, some people got ill with bacterial infection due to some complications. In this case, you are prescribed antibiotics from your healthcare provider. As of now, no licensed medicine has been discovered to cure covid-19. However, the symptoms can be suppressed by some essential nutrients and common medicines of cold and cough. 

Can COVID-19 cause severe disease?

covid -19 can cause mild to moderate symptoms including fever, cough, tiredness, a sore throat, diarrhea and headache, and so on. While in some people it can cause severe symptoms like difficulty in breathing, chest pain, and loss of speech and movement. In the current time, many people are dealing with shortness of breath and have to rely on ventilators. It affects a small population drastically and people would need hospitalization for the treatment. Although, a large population is recovering daily. 

Can you have chest pain after recovering from Covid-19?

Yes, some patients report persistent pain in the chest after recovering from covid-19. However, chest pain is found in 20% of the patients. 

Can the coronavirus disease spread through feces?

The chances of the disease spreading through feces are however low. Although, there is evidence that the covid-19 may cause intestinal infection and could be present in feces. On account, 2-10% of the patients with confirmed covid-19 infection were observed with diarrhea. While two studies showed coronavirus viral RNA fragment in the feces of covid infected patients. 

As yet only one study has been cultured the covid-19 strain out from a single stool sample. There is no such evidence of fecal-oral transmission of the covid-19. 

 Is smoking dangerous during COVID-19 pandemic?

The evidence shows that smokers are at high risk of receiving the infection. Smoking makes the person more susceptible to the new coronavirus by making it more difficult to fight the infection and prevent respiratory diseases weakening the immunity. Tobacco users are also at high risk of the infection through the mouth as they consume the product in a group, same for cigarette smokers. Thus, if they got the infection, they stay at high risk of developing severities as their lung health is already weak. 

Will climate change make the COVID-19 pandemic worse?

Climate change and the covid-19 pandemic may or may not be connected, as there is no such evidence about it. As it has taken its lead among the human population, efforts are continuously making to prevent the transmission. Although climate changes may indirectly change the covid-19 response, as it erodes environmental determinants of health, and puts additional pressure on the health system. Mostly the emerging infectious disease and all recent pandemics arise in wildlife, and there is evidence that the increased human pressure on the natural environment may cause disease emergence. 

A strengthened health system, improved surveillance over disease in wildlife, greater protection of the natural environment and biodiversity should reduce the risk of future flare-ups of new diseases. 

Can COVID-19 spread through food?

No, there is no such evidence of the spread of covid-19 through food, and it is thought to be spread from person to person. But as a measure to prevent the infection, good hygiene should be maintained while handling food, as a safety to prevent foodborne illnesses. 

What are foods to avoid during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Foods to avoid during the covid-19 pandemic:- 

  • Red and fatty meats
  • Butter, and fatty dairy products
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Trans fats 

 Always read labels before buying a food product that partially hydrogenated oil should not be in the list of composition. In case if labels are not available avoid purchasing common foods which contain trans fat like biscuits, frozen pizzas, crackers, cookies, margarine. 

Foods with minimal processing would be a better choice if you want to eat. Apart from this, for good health and avoiding these fatty foods, try consuming more fiber that will make you feel full and will prevent overeating. 

Can I get the coronavirus disease from swimming in a swimming pool?

You won’t get diseases from the swimming pool if the pool is clean, well chlorinated, and well maintained. Although, you should stay at least 1m away from where people cough or sneeze.

Anjali Ved

Anjali ved is an enthusiastic writer in the health & lifestyle-related niche. She has been writing various blogs and articles on medical niches. Apart from this, she also holds a degree in medicine and an experience of two years.

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