The Difference Between the Flu and Covid-19

Flu season has arrived in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many it will be difficult to differentiate characteristics of the flu from those of COVID because they are very similar. Both can cause fever, body aches, a dry cough or fatigue.

While there are similarities shared between the two illnesses, there are a few key differences people should be aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
  • If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu. Typically, a person with the flu develops symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection. Symptoms of COVID usually develop 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary.
  • If a person has COVID-19, they may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu. Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms.

Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious during the initial 3-4 days of their illness but many remain contagious for about 7 days. For those with COVID, it is possible that they can spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared.

Protecting your health from the flu and COVID is crucial because symptoms resulting from these viruses can lead to life-threatening complications. This can be achieved by getting a flu shot and following safety precautions such as practicing proper hand hygiene, wearing a mask and sanitizing frequently used surfaces.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with the flu or COVID-19, please consult your doctor about being tested for the coronavirus. To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.