With flu season around the corner, everyone should be aware of the resemblance and distinctions between the flu and Covid-19. Though they are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they originate from different viruses. Because they are both respiratory illnesses, they share a lot of the same symptoms. This means that doctors cannot diagnose a patient to have either illness without testing first. Understanding both the flu and Covid will better ensure the safety of everyone and their loved ones.
Transmission of the Flu and Covid
The transmission of Covid is much higher than that of the flu. One reason for this is that the vaccine for the flu has been around for years. The populace has consistently been receiving this vaccine every year, which lowers the transmission of the flu. When more people become vaccinated for Covid, the transmission rate will start to decrease. This is the main reason that getting vaccinated is so important. Vaccines help our bodies learn about foreign viruses so that they can understand how to kill them before severe illness sets in.
Symptoms Shared by the Flu and Covid-19
Both the flu and Covid-19 share many of the same symptoms. The only difference in their symptoms is the amount of time a person remains sick, and the amount of time it takes symptoms to start showing. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) provides a list of shared symptoms of the flu and Covid-19, and they include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
- Shortness of breath/Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Change in or loss of taste or smell
Exposure and Spread Rates of the Flu and Covid-19
For both COVID-19 and flu, when an individual becomes infected and starts experiencing illness, symptoms can be one or several days. However, with Covid-19, the symptoms may not be noticed for much longer than those infected with the flu. When infected with the flu, they can see signs anywhere from one to four days after being infected. Covid symptoms are typically noticed around five days but can take five to fourteen days to show up. Covid-19 and the flu share the same transmission rate, one day before experiencing any symptoms. The only difference in the transmission rate is that those infected with Covid-19 can stay contagious for longer periods than someone infected with the flu.
Transmission of Covid-19 and the Flu
Covid-19 and the flu are spread between people within about six feet of each other through tiny respiratory droplets released when one sneezes, coughs, or talks. These two viruses are primarily spread through inhalation but can also be spread through direct touch between people or through touching surfaces that have become infected. The main difference between Covid-19 and the flu is that Covid-19 is much more contagious and spreads easier. Transmission rates can also be higher in those individuals that are labeled higher-risk individuals. These individuals include pregnant people, older people, and those that have underlying medical conditions.
Complications of Covid-19 and the Flu
The main difference in the complications that can follow an infection from Covid-19 and the flu is that the people who contract the flu virus usually recover on their own in a few days to two weeks. There are some situations where an individual with flu can have more severe symptoms that lead to complications. These severe symptoms are remarkably like Covid-19 and can have these complications:
- Respiratory failure
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs)
- Sepsis (a life-threatening illness caused by the body’s extreme response to an infection)
- Cardiac injury (for example, heart attacks and stroke)
- Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, or nervous system or diabetes)
- Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues
- Secondary infections (bacterial or fungal infections that can occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)
Covid-19 and the flu are very closely related in terms of transmission, symptoms, and complications. The main difference between Covid-19 and the flu is that Covid is just more contagious, and the symptoms are more severe from the start of the infection. These differences will change as more people get vaccinated. Through years of flu vaccinations, we have given our bodies the knowledge it needs to fight the flu virus. Over our lifetime, with more vaccinations being administered, the threat of Covid-19 should decrease closer to that of the flu. Being knowledgeable of Covid-19 and the flu will help everyone remain safe and healthy.