Coronavirus vs cold symptoms: How to spot the difference

WINTER is well and truly on its way and with it comes dreaded cold symptoms.

But do you know how to tell the difference between a common sniffle and Covid-19?

As autumn hits and more bugs begin to circulate – as more people mix indoors – it can prove confusing knowing if your symptoms are Covid-related or just a harmless cold.

Last winter cases of flu in the UK were around 95 per cent lower than normal, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Experts believe that this could be down to coronavirus lockdowns and the fact that less viruses and bugs were transmitted as people were ordered to stay at home and people increased personal hygiene such as hand washing.

This year experts are concerned that cases of the flu will increase with more people back in the office and mingling.

Independent Pharmacist, Rita Ghelani says that there is concern that the low number of flu cases during the 2020/21 winter has led to low levels of immunity to flu viruses for the coming season.

"This means that the population may be entering flu season with a higher level of susceptibility than usual", she said.

As the coronavirus continues to mutate, many people have reported a range of symptoms.

It's become harder to spot the difference between a cold, the flu and Covid.

Spot the difference

Anyone can be infected by coronavirus and while millions of people have been vaccinated – it doesn't mean you are 100 per cent protected.

Experts warned there is bound to be some nervousness around the virus and people need to be able to distinguish between whether or not they just have a sniffle or if they have contracted Covid-19.

The most common symptoms of the coronavirus are:

  • new continuous cough
  • and/or a high temperature
  • loss of taste and smell

These are the three main symptoms of the virus and if you display these symptoms you are eligible to get a PCR test from the government.

But around a third of people won't have symptoms and for more people the virus will cause a mild infection.

While some patients may also experience shortness of breath, experts have warned that there are a myriad of symptoms associated with the virus.

Scientists said patients on the Covid Symptom Tracker app have been reporting a wide rage of symptoms from confusion, headaches, muscle pains and fatigue.

American health officials also added diarrhoea to its list of confirmed coronavirus symptoms.

Dr Sarah Jarvis said: "Generally speaking, nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose are more typical of the common cold and symptoms can appear 2 – 3 days after exposure, only last a few days and are usually milder in severity."

Subtly different signs in kids

Scientists have also said that symptoms in children are different and said parents should look out for a loss of appetite.

Data from King's College London revealed that 52 per cent of school aged kids who tested positive for virus did not log classic adult symptoms.

The data is based on analysis from 198 children who tested positive and around 15,800 negative tests.

Of the 198 children who tested positive 55 per cent suffered from fatigue.

The second top symptom was a headache with 53 per cent suffering, fever is next with 49 per cent suffering with this, 38 per cent suffered with a sore throat and 35 per cent suffered with a loss of appetite.

It also found that 15 per cent of kids who test positive also present with an unusual skin rash.

The 5 ways you can help protect your little one from the winter sniffles

As kids are now back at school it’s likely they will pick up a cold.

The common cold is an all too familiar part of family life.  Unsurprisingly, children are the group who catch colds most often – 7 to 10 colds per year compared to 2-5 in adults. 

Protection is better than treatment when it comes to the common cold and Kristoffer Ahlerup, Commercial Director of Enzymatica, the manufacturers of ColdZyme has revealed his tips on how you can protect your kids.

  1. Sufficient rest: The NHS suggests that children aged between 3 to 5 years old get between 10 to 13 hours including naps, children who are 6 to 12 years old between 9 to 12 hours and teenagers (aged 13 to 18) 8 to 10 hours per night.   
  2. Eat well: Offering options from all five food groups provides the right mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients required to stay healthy.  Vitamins C, D and B6 are amongst some of the most important.
  3. Good hand hygiene: Most early years settings will assist younger children with this process, but the best place for them to learn good hand hygiene is at home.  
  4. Stay active: The NHS recommends that children aged 5-16 should do 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.  Exercise doesn’t have to mean taking your children to expensive clubs.  Adopting simple changes such as walking or cycling to and from school or popping to the park for a post-school play can also be beneficial.   
  5. Mouth spray: Using a mouth spray such as ColdZyme® that  forms a protective barrier at the back of the throat where cold viruses start to take hold and multiply.  The earlier you use it in the cold’s lifecycle (as soon as symptoms start to appear), the better as the protective barrier can help shorten the duration of a cold by up to 3.5 days

How does Covid-19 differ from flu or a common cold?

The symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to other respiratory illnesses.

However, with flu, symptoms are likely to come on much quicker.

The NHS states the signs of flu include:

  • a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick or being sick

However, research by experts at King's College University found that several symptoms that are consistent with the flu and also consistent with the coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) listed aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, a rash on skin and discolouration of fingers or toes as less common symptoms of coronavirus.

However, some people who become infected do not develop any symptoms and do not feel unwell, the WHO said, and they can still transmit the virus to those around them.

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure and loss of speech or movement are the most serious symptoms, according to the WHO, which requires immediate medical attention.

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