How Do I Know If What I Have Is a Coronavirus, Flu Or Cold?

Not falling into hysteria is essential to endure the phase of confinement against the Coronavirus, a stage of uncertainty where everything is magnificent. Any headache, any moment of cough or any slight muscular pain sets off alarms for oneself and for family or friends. But calm down.

Remember that processes like flu or colds, caused by viruses that infect the airways, have no cure. Once these diseases are contracted, the virus is fought until it is defeated, but today there is no method to prevent it from accessing human beings. In any case, it should also be remembered that these should never be treated with antibiotics, since they only act against bacteria and here we are talking about viruses. These are the symptoms and the differences between the Coronavirus, a flu and a cold.



It is not the only tool to differentiate them, but it is one of the most notable, mainly because it will allow us to discard the cold from the equation. Both the flu and the Coronavirus cause an increase in body temperature beyond what is called a low-grade fever, that is, they generate a high fever. It is true that there is a minimum percentage of colds that can cause fever, but it is so tiny that, if we have more than 38 degrees of body temperature, we will focus on the flu and COVID-19.

According to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine of 1,099 patients with Coronavirus in China, 89% of them acknowledged having had a fever during the process. That is, for it to be Coronavirus we must have a fever. There is the possibility of having a fever and that it is not COVID-19, but the statistics tell us that in case of exceeding 38 degrees, we should act as if we had it, because it is 89% probable that – also having other symptoms that we will detail below- so be it.


Once the question of whether or not we have a fever becomes clear, let’s analyze the second key factor: cough. Both a cold and the flu or the Coronavirus cause a cough, but they are different. A cold can give what is called a productive cough, that is, with phlegm. Coughs from the flu or Coronavirus are dry coughs without sputum.

Likewise, if you feel a sore throat, sneezing, itchy nose and, above all, frequent runny nose, it is an almost unequivocal symptom that you have a cold, since the presence of mucus is very rare in flu or Coronavirus.

Muscle pain

The level of muscle discomfort will help us also clarify what viruses we have. The discomforts are usually concentrated in the arms, legs, neck and back, being mainly characteristic of the flu or COVID-19. The cold can also generate muscle stiffness, but always in a smaller, almost imperceptible range.

Feeling short of breath and fatigue

They are mainly symptoms of Coronavirus. As has been happening throughout the article, we will reiterate the phrase “it can have these symptoms and it is not”, because each body is a world and a subject can express a disease with more symptoms or less than another, but the Studies and science in their general analyzes indicate that they are frequent symptoms when you have Coronavirus.

The feeling of not being able to breathe well – more similar to pneumonia than to a brat problem – and the systematic tiredness, of being accompanied by fever, would lead us to the path of COVID-19. For this reason it should not be serious or alarming, but we would begin to treat it.


There are two very clear differences between Coronavirus-flu and a cold. The first is that both the Coronavirus and the flu affect the entire body in a systematic way, that is, the cold is concentrated in specific and specific areas, generally in the nose and, at most, in the mouth. The second is that the cold has a gradual, progressive progression, while both the Coronavirus and the flu can appear spontaneously, without showing any previous discomfort.

The most difficult thing will be to differentiate the flu from COVID-19, since both are respiratory viruses with similar pathologies. But the most effective way to do this is to focus on fever, cough, and shortness of breath, as these are the three most common symptoms in Coronavirus patients. If you do, take precautions. The most recommended common medicine is paracetamol, follow the instructions and take it in the indicated moderation. If there is no improvement, call the medical help service of your Autonomous Community. Only go to the hospital if the discomfort is high or very high, so as not to congestion the Healthcare with mild or light cases.