Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

How do COVID-19 Symptoms Differ from Those Caused by Seasonal Allergies, Colds, and the Flu?

It can be nerve-wracking to know there’s a new kind of bug going around, and we’re not exactly sure how it’s spread. Every sneeze, tickle in the throat, or muscle ache can make you wonder, “Do I have coronavirus?” 

The medical teams at Prima Medicine, with locations in Washington, D.C., and Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, are committed to serving the local community. We’ve prepared this brief on COVID-19 using information from the latest authoritative sources, to help you discern your symptoms and understand what is and is not a cause for alarm.

Top COVID-19 symptoms

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while not all people will present in exactly the same way, there are a few key symptoms that appear in most patients infected with the coronavirus.

Some patients may cough up phlegm; experience headaches, muscle, and/or joint pain; have nasal or eye congestion, or suffer from nausea or diarrhea. However, if you have one or more of these symptoms but not the top symptoms of COVID-19, you may simply have seasonal allergies, a cold, or the flu.

Seasonal allergy symptoms

Seasonal allergies usually present with one or more of the following allergy symptoms:

If you have severe allergies or asthma, you could also experience headaches, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Already having respiratory issues can make COVID-19 more dangerous to you, so practice good hygiene and try to avoid exposure.

Common cold symptoms

If you have a common cold, you may be experiencing one or more of these cold symptoms:

If your fever climbs, or if you start having shortness of breath, your cold may have developed into something more serious. You could have also been exposed to COVID-19, but you should only be worried if you are in a high-risk category (advanced in age, with existing respiratory problems, or with a compromised immune system.)

Flu symptoms

The flu is the main illness that can present with symptoms the most similar to top COVID-19 symptoms. Flu symptoms include:

The big COVID-19 symptom missing from the flu symptom list is a dry cough. However, it is possible to have one or the other and have different symptoms than the most common ones.

If you are worried you have COVID-19

The CDC has the following instructions if you think you may have COVID-19:

Call your doctor if you develop the following symptoms:

AND

Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, and tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel or contact with travelers or people with confirmed cases. You don’t want to expose others unnecessarily.


The entire team at Prima Medicine is here for you during this challenging time. If you need an appointment, call us at or contact us online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?

Did you know you could be at risk for a heart attack without having any outward signs of heart disease? Understanding your risk factors and taking steps to reduce them is your best way of preventing a cardiac event. Read on to learn more.

Tips for Avoiding a UTI

If you’ve struggled with the pain and discomfort of a urinary tract infection (UTI), chances are you’d like to avoid having another one in the future. Read on to learn steps you can take to prevent getting UTIs.

5 Steps to Take If You Have Prediabetes

Are you one of the millions of Americans with high blood sugar and at risk for Type 2 diabetes? There are steps you can take to manage your condition and get your health back on track. Read on to learn what you need to know.

When to See a Doctor About Acid Reflux

Having acid reflux now and then isn’t usually a cause for concern. But, if you’re experiencing it two times a week or more, it may be time to seek medical help. Read on to learn more.

5 Signs of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is commonly associated with sleep apnea, but there are other warning signs you shouldn’t ignore. Take a moment to learn about them and what you can do if you think you have this common sleep disorder.

When to Consider Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers a convenient, safe, and effective way to get quality medical care. But it’s not the right choice for every situation. Read on to learn when it’s the right time to consider virtual care.