A Doctor Explains How to Tell the Difference

For all the fabulous parts of fall — cozy jackets, glorious weather, everything pumpkin-flavored — there are some not-so-wonderful things that are fall standard. Namely cold season. Pooh. But while we’ve never particularly liked catching a cold, since the advent of COVID-19, we’ve been particularly nervous about that familiar feeling. Is our runny nose the product of a cold or COVID? How about that nagging cough? For this reason we have Dr. Phillip Kadaj, MD, FACP, internal medicine physician at JustAnswer, a website that connects users with experts, for advice on how to tell the difference between a cold and COVID. Here’s what you need to know as we transition from summer to cold season.

Meet the expert

dr Phillip Kadaj, MD, FACP, is an internal medicine physician at JustAnswer, a website that connects users with a variety of medical professionals.

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How do the symptoms of COVID and the common cold differ?

dr Kadaj tells us there are a few ways to differentiate between a cold and COVID-19. “The symptoms of a cold are similar to allergy-like symptoms and should generally be fairly mild,” he notes, adding that these can include a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, mild cough and fatigue. Still, these are symptoms of the common cold can Overlap with COVID-19. The difference is in the severity of the symptoms. “For example, a more pronounced cough, moderate to severe fatigue, headache, and moderate to severe constipation [could be signs of COVID].” He also notes that a fever is a hallmark symptom of COVID-19 that you wouldn’t typically see with a cold.

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If we have these symptoms, when should we worry that it’s more than a cold?

“In addition to fever, COVID-19 often manifests itself through symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and diarrhea,” explains Dr. kaday “It can also result in a loss of taste and smell much more commonly.” He urges that if you have a high fever (over 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit) and shortness of breath, you should get tested for COVID immediately and self-quarantine. .

Even if you’re sure it’s just a cold, should you still get tested?

Let’s say you’re pretty sure your symptoms are so mild it’s just a cold. dr Kadaj stresses that without testing, it’s simply not possible to say for sure it’s “just a cold” — especially in children. “Children often have very mild symptoms with COVID-19,” he explains. You should consider testing in these scenarios, he tells us:

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A final piece of advice that Dr. Kadaj gives us is just to listen to his body. “We’ve all had a lot of colds in our lives. If you are sick and feeling different, play it safe and get tested. Or if you’re just not sure, always play it safe and get tested.” He adds that you’ll never regret being extra careful by getting tested to help limit the spread of the pandemic slow down and protect yourself and others.

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