Flu sick, sinus sick or Covid-19 sick? How do you know?
Flu sick, sinus sick or Covid-19 sick? How do you know?

Unsure if you have Covid or the flu? Here’s how to tell the difference

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Nov 17, 2021

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Durban - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) this week announced a spike in South Africa's flu numbers.

NICD head of the Centre for Respiratory Disease and Meningitis (CRDM), Professor Cheryl Cohen reported a steady increase in the number of flu cases from week 34 (week starting in August 23, 2021) with a sharp increase in week 44 (week starting on November 1 2021).

With the 4th Covid-19 wave anticipated, how does one differentiate between flu and Covid-19?

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), flu and Covid-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.

“Covid-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses,” the CDC said.

Flu symptoms

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)

The CDC said some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Covid-19 symptoms

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhoea

Medical epidemiologist at the CRDM, Dr Sibongile Walaza added that although most people with flu will present with mild illness, it may cause severe illness which may require hospitalisation or result in death.

If you encounter any difficulty breathing or moving about, contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately.


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