January 7, 2022

With cold and flu season upon us while we’re entering Year 3 of the pandemic, it’s becoming even more difficult to determine if those sniffles are a result of having just come in from the cold or if you have a cold, the flu or COVID-19.

The symptoms of each cross boundaries making it sometimes necessary for a medical test to determine what it is so you know how to treat it. You also need to know in order to determine if you could be contagious.

The key is to know what the differences are and to be self-aware of your symptoms. While the following information outlines the symptoms of each, always err on the side of caution.

If you believe you have the flu or COVID-19, please call your medical provider and explain your symptoms before going to a facility to seek care.

Be aware of the onset of symptoms:

Cold: Symptoms typically come on gradually

Flu: Symptoms usually come on suddenly and vigorously and are more severe than a cold

COVID-19: Symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days following exposure to COVID-19

Consider your symptoms:

Cold: Common symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing and runny nose, yet also may include cough, mild headache and minor body aches

Flu: Common symptoms include high-grade fever, headache, muscle or body aches and fatigue, yet also may include dry cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose, as well as nausea and vomiting (more common in children than adults)

COVID-19: Common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, congestion and sore throat; symptoms also can also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and new loss of taste or smell

Download this infographic for more information.

To educate yourself further, you can also review these resources from the CDC:




Download Infographic