Spotting the difference between COVID-19, other common illnesses
JACKSON, Tenn. — With COVID-19 mimicking other common illnesses, you may wonder how to distinguish between it and other health issues.
“We usually start off testing for the flu, and if that’s negative, we’ll commonly go to COVID testing,” said Dr. Karl Studtmann, with the West Tennessee Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic.
Studtmann said some patients come in thinking they may have COVID-19, but it may be something else.
COVID-19 has similar symptoms to the flu, asthma and allergies.
“It’s not uncommon with allergies to have some shortness of breath, or wheezing, or asthma-like symptoms,” Studtmann said. “With COVID, you can also have shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.”
Those similarities can cause concern. However, there are some differences.
“With allergies, you tend to have more of the itch. When you get exposed to something you’re allergic to, your body secretes histamine, which makes things swell and itch,” Studtmann said.
“With COVID or the flu, for example, you’re not going to have as much of the itch. You may have congestion, but you won’t have the itch that goes with it,” he said.
He also said the main difference between the four is a fever.
“Flu tends to have an acute onset of high fever. COVID tends to have a fever also, in the neighborhood of 100 or so,” Studtmann said. “A cold tends to have less fever, and allergies don’t have any fever.”
“Asthma typically does not have fever, but it does give you the shortness of breath. That can be very serious also,” he said. “That’s something that’s also worth evaluating.”
Studtmann recommended the continued use of face coverings, social distancing and hand washing.
To see see a chart comparing symptoms, click here.