A cold, flu or COVID-19 are all illnesses caused by different viruses, however, they can all have similar symptoms. In particular, as the public have learned more about different symptoms and different strains of Covid-19 arising such as the Delta variant, it’s become harder to tell the difference between Covid-19, colds and flu. How can you know for sure if it’s a cold, flu or the new Delta Covid variant?
Flu and coronavirus have many similar symptoms, such as a high temperature, a cough and shortness of breath.
However, it’s unusual for the flu to cause a loss or change to your sense of taste and smell, which can happen with COVID-19, but experts advise that this seems to be less common with the Delta variant.
Data from the ZOE study, collected between March and May 2021, found there were six main clusters of symptoms which may indicate COVID-19 rather than just a cold or flu.
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These clusters include:
Flu-like with no fever: Headache, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever.
Flu-like with fever: Headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite.
Gastrointestinal: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, sore throat, chest pain, no cough.
Severe illness with fatigue: Headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue.
More severe illness, with confusion: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain.
Very severe illness, abdominal and respiratory: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, abdominal pain.
Professor Tim Spector who runs the Zoe Covid Symptom study, said that catching the Delta variant can feel ‘more like a bad flu’.
He added: “Since the start of May, we have been looking at the top symptoms in the app users and they are not the same as they were.
“This variant seems to be working slightly differently.
“People might think they’ve just got some sort of seasonal cold, and they still go out to parties and they might spread around to six other people.
“The message here is that if you are young, you are going to get milder symptoms anyway.
“It might just feel like a bad cold or some funny ‘off’ feeling – but do stay at home and do get a test.”