Cold, flu or covid – symptoms, duration, differences between diseases

Cold, flu or Covid - symptoms, duration, signs of differences between diseases

The number of cases of coronavirus infection is growing, but at the same time the number of cases of influenza is also growing. And there are people who just have a classic cold. We list the most common symptoms, incubation period and disease duration for each disease.

Cough, runny nose, sore throat – many people suffer from these symptoms. It is often not so easy to determine whether you have a cold, coronavirus or the flu. We explain the differences between the diseases.

“The symptoms cannot be clearly differentiated. And, ultimately, only a coronavirus test or a visit to the doctor can provide clarity. However, differences still exist, for example, in the frequency of symptoms of the disease,” – says general practitioner Irina Andreeva specially for MedicForum.
The doctor lists the “classic” symptoms of each disease.


Classic symptoms of a cold:

  • runny nose
  • cough and
  • sore throat.

It happens, but less often:

  • fever or

    • High temperature.

    Incubation period: The incubation period can vary greatly and ranges from two to 14 days.
    < br>Duration and contagiousness:colds are usually contagious within a week.



    General signs of Covid-19:

    • Cough
    • Sniffles
    • sore throat and
    • Fever.

    You may also experience:

    • headache and body pain
    • general weakness and
    • eventually shortness of breath.

    Less common, but possible signs of the disease such as:

    • nausea
    • abdominal pain
    • diarrhea
    • conjunctivitis
    • skin rash
    • swelling of lymph nodes and
    • lightheadedness.

    Incubation period:The incubation period of Covid-19 averages four to six days.

    Duration and infection:The duration of the disease depends on its severity.

    “The ability to become infected is significantly reduced ten days after the onset of symptoms for mild to moderately severe disease. However, in some patients with severe disease, the condition worsens after 8-15 days after the onset of the disease,” explains Andreeva.



    Although the symptoms of a cold are similar to those of a corona virus infection, they are significantly different from the symptoms of the flu.

    The flu manifests itself:

    • often due to the sudden onset of illness with fever
    • headache and/or body pain and
    • through a clear feeling of illness.

    The following symptoms may also occur:

    • dry, irritating cough
    • general weakness
    • sweat and
    • sniffles.

    However, signs of the disease such as:

    • nausea
    • vomiting and
    • diarrhea.
    Incubation period: The incubation period is short and averages only one to two days.

    Duration and infection:duration of illness usually five to seven days. However, in patients with severe disease, deterioration often occurs approximately three to ten days after symptoms begin.

    “Older people are especially affected. People with influenza are contagious within a week after the first signs of the disease appear.”

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    Important! Information is provided for reference purposes. Ask a specialist about contraindications and side effects and under no circumstances self-medicate. At the first signs of illness, consult a doctor.