Coronavirus and the common cold have been found to present similar symptoms, such as a cough. But with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the UK, it’s more important than ever to be able to distinguish what illness you have. While we expect things to get confusing, one doctor reveals the sign in your cough to look out for.
According to Dr Stephanie Colbourn, a GP at Portland Medical Centre in South Norwood, if it’s a cold, mucus production can lead to a cough that feels “wet”.
One of the main symptoms of COVID is a dry cough.
She explained to Patient.info other differences to look out for.
“If it’s just a cold, the symptoms tend to stay in the upper airways, meaning you’re most likely to experience a blocked nose, sneezing and a sore throat,” she advised.
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“You will probably feel OK in yourself otherwise, though there may be a sense of malaise or being run down.”
Alongside a wet cough, Dr Colbourn says you may also experience aches, pains and fatigue.
She continued: “Most colds will go away by themselves in a week or so without treatment, but in the meantime you can take over-the-counter remedies to relieve the symptoms.”
A key difference with COVID-19, Dr Colbourn notes, is that a fever and dry cough are the main symptoms.
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She added: “Another difference is that COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and the loss of the sense of taste and smell (anosmia). These can be accompanied by fatigue, aches and pains.”
It’s important to note not diagnosis based on symptoms alone is 100 percent accurate.
Patient.info says if you have any symptoms that might be due to COVID-19, it’s essential to self-isolate and arrange a test as soon as possible
You must also stay in isolation until you have the results and follow the instructions you’re given if your test is positive.
Dr Colbourn also outlines the defining signs of flu.
She said: “The flu tends to cause more whole-body symptoms rather than upper airway symptoms, like fever, fatigue, aches and pains, and headaches. However, you can experience some dry cough and a sore throat.”
Each year, people at risk of complications are offered a flu vaccine on the NHS.
And this year even more people will be eligible for a free vaccination.
The NHS flu vaccine is available for people who:
Are 65 and over (including those who’ll be 65 by 31 March 2021)Have certain health conditionsAre pregnantAre in a long-stay residential careReceive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person Who may be at risk if you get sickLive with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)Frontline health or social care workers
If you’re not eligible for a free vaccine, you can pay to have it.