How to tell if you have the coronavirus, the flu or the common cold

Posted at 11:06 AM, Mar 16, 2020

SAN DIEGO — As COVID-19 spreads rapidly around the world, much of the fear from health officials stems from the fact that the virus is so new and that it is unraveling in real-time.

Many remain confused about the coronavirus' exact symptoms. Many healthcare professionals tell people to look for cold or flu-like symptoms. But what exactly does that mean?

According to Dr. Abisola Olulade from Sharp Rees Stealy in San Diego, these are the symptoms to look for in the case of the common cold, the flu and COVID-19:

Stuffy Nose
Sore Throat



Shortness of Breath

There are many overlaps. But Olulade said the most significant difference is the respiratory aspect of shortness of breath.

"I would say that the main thing that is different about the coronavirus is that, more so than the others, it causes shortness of breath. It's rare for the others to cause shortness of breath," Olulade said.

When should patients go to the doctor? Olulade says not to panic and run out the door immediately.

First, patients should be sure they have a fever, cough, and, most importantly, shortness of breath. Then, patients should call their doctor to let them know of specific symptoms so that the hospital or doctor's office can prepare for potential arrival. In the case of COVID-19, patients may need special rooms set up.

Olulade said that those in good general health with no pre-existing conditions and no recent travel history might be asked to stay home and self-quarantine for the time being. Those patients should not be prioritized for a test for the coronavirus.

Those that are presenting COVID-19 symptoms, have pre-existing conditions that compromise immune systems or have recent travel history might be asked to get tested immediately.

For more information on what to do if you think you have COVID-19, click here.

This story was originally published by Rina Nakano on KGTV in San Diego.

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