Flu or Covid-19: do you know the difference?


Last updated on December 8th, 2022 at 02:37 pm

The Covid-19 epidemic continues to spread and, with winter, the flu is likely to make a comeback very soon. While the two diseases are caused by different viruses, they are symptomatically very similar. So how do you tell them apart?

Let’s start with the commonalities. The Covid-19 virus and the influenza virus give a similar clinical picture, marked by respiratory manifestations.

Flu or Covid-19
Flu or Covid-19

And to complete this picture, we also find a fever, body aches, general fatigue, cough, shortness of breath …

Of course, and this is what makes the diagnosis sometimes complicated, where some patients will present a large number of symptoms, others will develop one of these diseases without even realizing it.

For example, international literature suggests that between 20 and 50% of Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic.


The mode of transmission is also the same. Whether it is for the Covid-19 or for the flu, it is done either by direct contact with the infected person or a surface that they have contaminated or by airborne via droplets (postilions …)

Atypical symptoms

But some manifestations may suggest SARS-CoV-2.

Nasal congestion can occur. As well as gastroenterological symptoms: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting.

The sudden onset of a loss of taste (ageusia) or smell (anosmia) in the absence of rhinitis is also an evocative sign.

Dermatologically, some people develop erythema (redness) or a rash, and more rarely pseudo-frostbite, especially in the toes.

Finally, as Inserm specifies, “in particular in the elderly and when no other cause is identifiable, certain signs that appear suddenly may be atypical signs of the disease, such as discomfort, repeated falls or confused state. ”

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When in doubt, only a Covid screening test can decide. Do not hesitate to discuss this with your doctor.

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