With the onset of flu season, it can be difficult to know when to get tested for Coronavirus, or if you simply have a common cold.
In previous years, a scratchy throat or runny nose would have meant the onset of a cold or perhaps the annual winter flu. However in 2020, there’s a third contender that we must always consider – that being the arrival of Covid-19 (coronavirus).
Cold vs Flu vs Coronavirus: What’s The Difference?
The common cold, influenza and Covid-19 unfortunately do have overlapping symptoms, so it’s important to monitor them. The fly generally has a rapid onset of symptoms: think how common it is to hear the phrase “I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train” from flu patients. A common cold can take longer to develop, and Covid-19 could take anywhere between 2-14 days to evolve.
Symptoms of the common cold include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
While influenza does have some similarities with the common cold, it’s considered rare to have a blocked nose or to be sneezing. If you think you might have the flu instead, additional symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
- Cough (both dry and chesty)
- Aches and pains
While either can happen at any time of the year, cases for both influenza and the common cold tend to increase in the cooler months, as the viruses have been shown to thrive in low humidity climates. Both are considered to be highly contagious, so it’s important to practice good hygiene to avoid them – meaning avoid touching surfaces when you can, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
These hygiene practices – along with many others – have of course become “the norm” with the arrival of Covid-19. The symptoms of the coronavirus have many similarities with the common cold or flu. This virus has been known to present itself with a wide range of symptoms other than the above, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of smell or taste
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Muscle and joint pain
Source: Queensland Government
When To Get Tested For Coronavirus
The Australian Government’s online symptom checker is a great place to start if you aren’t sure on spotting the signs. If you are sick – even with what you think might just be a common cold – it’s important that you get tested for Covid-19.
If you aren’t in a position to attend one of the many fever clinics set up as part of the national response to Covid-19 or to attend a medical consult in person, it may be worth considering the services of an online telehealth provider.
Consultations with an online doctor at 13 Doctor are available seven days a week, between 7:00am to 11:00pm. These are performed via an online video call, where patients can access a referral to undergo further testing for Covid-19. This method limits the face to face interactions, and aims to streamline the testing process.