Sniffles or Something More Sinister? Spot the Signs to Distinguish Cold, Flu, and Coronavirus

The China coronavirus is rapidly spreading, with the number of infected people rising daily. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the epidemic a “global emergency,” and more and more people are beginning to wonder if their symptoms are from a cold, flu, or the new coronavirus.

The Symptoms

The biggest problem with determining whether you have a cold, flu, or coronavirus is that they are all upper respiratory infections. However, according to the medical team at Yale, you can generally differentiate between a cold and the flu by their intensity. Flu symptoms are typically more intense than those associated with a cold and usually come on suddenly, including a high fever (above 100.5 degrees), extreme exhaustion, severe muscle or body aches, a dry cough, and chills.

Coronaviruses generally mimic a cold and flu when they first start, but often progress to a much more severe respiratory problem such as pneumonia. If you don’t have a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher that lasts for three to five days, you likely just have the common cold. However, if your symptoms progress to shortness of breath, body aches, and chills, you could be infected with one of the more dangerous types of the coronavirus.

Your Risks

It’s important to evaluate your risk factors and see a doctor whether you think the flu or coronavirus is behind your symptoms. If you’ve been around someone who has recently returned from China or have a weakened immune system, you’re at a higher risk of being struck by the coronavirus. According to Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at this time, there have not been cases of coronavirus spread outside of these groups.

Protecting Yourself from the Coronavirus

To protect yourself from this latest viral outbreak, it’s vital to boost your immune system and use basic hygiene precautions. Washing your hands regularly throughout the day, wearing a mask in crowds, and disinfecting items that are touched regularly can help limit the spread of all types of viruses, including the flu, colds, and the coronavirus.

You can also help support your immune system by taking natural supplements and consuming immune-boosting drinks. Prepping your immune system, practicing disinfection measures, and staying alert to your risk factors can help protect you and your family from the coronavirus.