Wondering if You Have COVID-19, a Cold, or the Flu? Come In; We Have Testing


It’s November, and that means the fall and winter virus season is in full swing. If you’ve found yourself sneezing and wondering if it’s a common cold, the flu, or COVID-19, you’re not alone. 

With so many viral infections sharing similar symptoms, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And not understanding which virus you have can make treatment and recovery harder. The good news is that the care team at Prima Medicine in Merrifield, Fairfax,  and South Riding, Virginia, can help. 

Our board-certified internal medicine providers are here to guide and inform you about these viruses, and our team offers testing for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans to help you recover.

Which infection do I have?

In these uncertain times, when there are so many different viruses circulating, differentiating between the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19 can feel challenging, especially since symptoms can overlap.

To help you better understand what to look for, here’s a review of each of these illnesses and the dominant symptoms they cause:

Common cold

The common cold, which can be caused by many types of viruses, primarily affects the nose and throat. Symptoms usually include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat. It might also be accompanied by mild fatigue.


Influenza, which is often referred to as the flu, can hit suddenly and cause more severe symptoms than a cold. You might experience fever, body aches, headache, and fatigue. You might also suffer a runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, or gastrointestinal symptoms, such as an uneasy stomach.


The COVID-19 virus has a range of symptoms. This fall and winter, the main ones are fever, chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, and loss of taste or smell. Symptoms can also include cough, sore throat, congestion, nausea, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

How does an internal medicine provider help?

In today’s world of multiple viruses, knowing what you’re up against is half the battle. Testing can help pinpoint the illness and guide you on how to manage it. Your Prima Medicine internist can diagnose which type of viral infection you have and create a personalized treatment plan to help you feel like yourself again. 

Treating a cold

While there’s no cure for this infection, your internal medicine provider can address your symptoms and help stop the infection from spreading to your ears or throat. Most of the time, symptoms associated with the common cold improve with rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications. 

Treating influenza

If your test determines you have influenza, antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, can reduce the severity and duration of the flu if taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. If you suspect you have the flu, don’t wait to see your internal medicine provider, because it’s essential to start treatment early for maximum effectiveness. 

Treating COVID-19

If your Prima Medicine provider diagnoses you with COVID-19, there are treatments that can help you recover. Certain antiviral medications have been authorized for use in treating COVID-19. These medications can help reduce the severity of symptoms in some individuals. Always consult with your internist for appropriate medication recommendations.

What if I’m not sure what to do?

With fall and winter illnesses making their rounds, it’s more critical than ever to stay informed and proactive. If you suspect you might have the flu or COVID-19, or if you’re unsure about your symptoms, reach out to your internal medicine provider at Prima Medicine. 

Our team can recommend the appropriate testing, so you can receive the correct diagnosis and treatment. We offer reliable COVID testing at our Merrifield location. 

Whether you need antivirals for flu or COVID-19, or you need guidance on managing symptoms, our dedicated team is here for you.

If you don’t feel well, our team can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

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