Do You Have COVID-19 or Something Else?
Although the world seems to be on hold, all colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses have not read this memo. If you are sick and are trying to determine if you have coronavirus or any other respiratory illness, there are several ways to narrow it down, but with some caveats.
The human body reacts differently to diseases. It is also possible to get sick with two or more things at once, which will make your picture of symptoms unclear. We are still in the very early stages of learning about COVID-19, so there is still a lot of uncertainty. And the most important warning: only a medical professional has the right to give a medical opinion about your specific disease, especially until additional information becomes available.
However, we can look at the symptoms of coronavirus, colds, flu and allergies and see the similarities and differences.
The CDC listed the symptoms of the coronavirus as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or shortness of breath. Based on more than 50,000 confirmed cases in China, the WHO-China Joint Mission Report lists more symptoms and provides a percentage breakdown:
- fever (87.9%)
- dry cough (67.7%)
- fatigue (38.1%)
- sputum (33.4%)
- shortness of breath (18.6%)
- sore throat (13.9%)
- headache (13.6%)
- myalgia or arthralgia (14.8%)
- chills (11.4%)
- nausea or vomiting (5.0%)
- nasal congestion (4.8%)
- diarrhea (3.7%)
- hemoptysis (0.9%)
- congestion of the conjunctiva (0.8%).
If you have a cold, you may have a low-grade fever and cough, but usually you will have other symptoms as well: runny or stuffy nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing and possibly body aches, mild headache or general malaise – symptoms that are much less common with coronavirus.
Flu symptoms include fever and a dry, persistent cough, as well as sore throat, nasal congestion, chills and sweat, body aches, fatigue, and headache.
Allergy symptoms include itchy eyes, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and sometimes coughing, fatigue, and sore throat.
If you don’t have a fever, you’re more likely to have a cold or allergy than a coronavirus. While shortness of breath is present in only about 19% of the coronavirus cases described above, it is not a typical symptom of a cold, flu, or allergy.
How severe can the symptoms be?
This question also requires a lot of caveats. There are probably many mild cases of coronavirus that have not been identified as such. Oddly enough, even those who were diagnosed described the coronavirus as a fairly mild form. “My chest feels tight and I have coughing fits. “If I were at home with these symptoms, I would probably go to work as usual,” Carl Goldman, a man in his 60s who contracted the illness while on a cruise, wrote in the Washington Post .
But that doesn’t mean the symptoms can’t be severe.
Although the coronavirus usually starts with a fever and dry cough and possibly mild pneumonia, in severe cases, shortness of breath may follow after a few days. More serious symptoms include low blood oxygen levels, respiratory failure, septic shock, organ dysfunction or failure, and even death. This is because shortness of breath leads to a restriction of the oxygen that the main organs need to function.
COVID-19 infection usually lasts about two weeks, but more serious cases can last three to six weeks. Those who die due to coronavirus die two to eight weeks after the first symptoms appear.
If you think you have COVID-19
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms , including a fever and dry cough, the CDC recommends that you contact your health care provider and be sure to get help if your symptoms worsen or if you think this is an emergency. Dyspnea at rest is always a sign of immediate medical attention.
It is better to call than show up unannounced for medical attention, as hospitals and doctors’ offices take special measures to protect other patients. You will also want to stay six feet away from other people, leaving your home only for medical attention. The CDC recommends avoiding sharing rides, taxis, and public transport.
Also, follow your doctor’s advice, both for your own health and to prevent infecting others. Follow our tips to keep your community safe .