Covid-19 vs. The Flu vs. a Cold


COVID-19 vs the Flu vs a Cold

Signs and symptoms of the flu, a cold, and COVID-19.

Each year, as the leaves change color and the temperatures cool, flu and cold season begins to ramp up. But if you start to feel stuffy, sneezy, or not quite yourself, how do you know what you're sick with?


The cold, the flu, and COVID-19 share certain symptoms. But each illness is treated differently, which is why it's so important not to self-diagnose. Instead, seek the right treatment for your symptoms.

If you have severe symptoms

If you’re experiencing any of these emergency warning signs of flu or of COVID-19, seek immediate help by calling your doctor right away or dialing 9-1-1. 

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Fever above 104 (in children. Any fever in children under 12 weeks)
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsens
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, and/or inability to arouse or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds
  • Severe muscle pain (children may refuse to walk)
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions
Benefits of the Flu Shot

If you have mild-to-moderate symptoms 

Stay home and call your primary care provider or family doctor, who can determine what kind of infection you have and prescribe the best treatment plan for your diagnosis.

In the meantime, stay home, drink fluids like water and soup broth, and get plenty of rest. Monitor your symptoms closely and seek immediate medical help if your symptoms become severe (such as you are struggling to breathe). 

Remember to help protect others around you from becoming ill:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with others – especially children, older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses, and other more vulnerable populations. 
  • Wear a mask if you are leaving home

Questions About Symptoms?

Talk to your family provider or call our free Ask-A-Nurse line at 231-935-0951, available 24 hours a day. A registered nurse is on standby, ready to direct you to the right care, which could include an urgent virtual care visit.

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