“Is it a cold? Is it ‘flu? Is it COVID-19?”
It is increasingly difficult to know if your cough or fatigue is caused by COVID-19, the ‘flu or some other nasty bug. We would always advise you to err on the side of caution these days – self-isolate and book yourself a test just to make sure. However, here are a few symptoms that are far more common in COVID-19:
Loss of taste and smell
Anosmia. It’s the clinical term for your loss of smell. While this may not occur as an initial symptom, it is much more common amongst COVID-19 cases. While some people develop anosmia after a COVID-19 infection, it can occur at the initial stage of symptom onset. It is important to note that even though the loss of taste and smell is regularly associated with COVID-19, it can still be a symptom of the cold or the flu, albeit a rare occurrence.
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is a rare symptom in cold and ‘flu cases, with the exception of people with asthma. It is however one of the more common symptoms associated with COVID-19 and long COVID.
King’s College London recently conducted a study that highlighted gastric symptoms such as diarrhoea as a symptom of COVID-19. The research supports that people with COVID-19 may experience gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, even in the absence of other symptoms.
So how do I know what I have?
Err on the side of caution – book an NHS test or book a home testing kit privately if even one of your symptoms is consistent with COVID-19. Better safe!
The ‘flu and COVID-19 share more symptoms with each other than they do with the common cold. But stay alert, especially with the emergence of new variants. For example, the “UK” variant tends to cause symptoms such as fatigue and a sore throat, more than the cough we have learnt to associate with this infection.
King’s College highlighted 6 separate clusters of symptoms of COVID-19:
“Flu-like” with no fever— anosmia, headache, muscle ache, cough, sore throat, chest pain
“Flu-like” with fever—headache, anosmia, cough, sore throat, fever, loss of appetite, hoarseness
Gastrointestinal—anosmia, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, sore throat, chest pain
Severe level one, fatigue—headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue
Severe level two, confusion—headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain
Severe level three, abdominal and respiratory—headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, abdominal pain.
COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms some of which have yet to be added to the ‘official’ list, so we’ve got to stay vigilant and err on the side of caution when deciding when to test for coronavirus. Let’s stop the spread of this virus together.