Is it a flu, cold or Covid?

Wednesday, 16 February 2022 by Vision Direct

This time of year, there are always a lot of people feeling under the weather. Since the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic, the big question these days is of course: Is it COVID-19 (also known as the SARS-CoV-2 virus), flu, or just a cold? Many of the symptoms of COVID-19, the flu, and the common cold are similar, so it can be difficult to figure out what you have. Here, we look at the symptoms, how you can differentiate between the 3, and share our top tips for taking care of yourself this season.

Difference between a cold and COVID-19

Woman holding mug

If you catch a cold, you usually suffer from a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, and sneezing. You may also have achy muscles and feel fatigued. The symptoms of the COVID-19 variants are often more severe. For example, many people with coronavirus suffer from high fever. Other symptoms of the coronavirus may include:

  • Coughing (usually a dry cough)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Loss of smell and loss of taste

When you cough or sneeze, small water droplets enter the air. This is how a virus can spread and infect surfaces. If you inhale these droplets, or get them in your mouth, nose or eyes, you can become infected with a virus. If you have COVID-19, the first symptoms usually appear 5 to 6 days following infection.

Difference between flu and COVID-19

The difference between the flu and COVID-19 is a bit more difficult to determine, because even with flu, you can suffer from cough and fever. It is therefore always advisable to do a COVID-19 test if you are not sure which one you may have.

Often, people say that they have the flu when it is just a common cold. But flu symptoms are more severe than the symptoms of a cold. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

Even if you have the flu, it is wise to follow the same rules as if you were tested positive with COVID-19: stay at home, do not meet people, and wash your hands regularly to prevent infecting those you live with. Get as much rest as possible, drink plenty of water, and try to eat something as soon as you feel hungry again.

COVID-19, or flu, or a cold

Are you sick and not sure if it is a cold, flu, or COVID-19? The table below depicts which symptoms belong to which disease. If you suspect you have COVID-19, get tested as soon as you can. Only with a test can you be 100% sure whether it’s COVID-19 or not. To ensure that you are as protected as possible, get your Covid-19 vaccines, and booster jab. See here for our tips on preparing for vaccination day.

Even if you are vaccinated, you can still become infected and spread the virus. And while you can still struggle with side effects, the chance that you will become seriously ill, need medical attention, or suffer from long COVID-19 is fortunately much smaller for healthy people.

Symptom Cold Flu COVID-19
duration <14 days 7-14 days 7-25 days
runny nose / stuffy nose often sometimes often
sore throat often sometimes often
sneezing often rarely often
headache rarely often sometimes
(dry) cough rarely often often
fatigue sometimes often often
shortness of breath rarely rarely often
fever rarely often often
diarrhea rarely sometimes sometimes
muscle aches often often sometimes

Tips for fighting flu and colds

Close up of a woman holding a glass of water
  • Get your flu vaccine - One of the best ways to protect your immune system against the flu is to get a flu vaccination, which can be obtained from the NHS, and selected pharmacies.
  • Get enough rest - Whether you have the flu or symptoms of a common cold: it is important to give your body enough rest if you are not feeling well. Also try to avoid too much physical exertion. It's important to give your body rest to recover.
  • Drink plenty of water - Drinking water is important if you’re not feeling your best. It is important to drink plenty of water, especially if you have a high temperature, as you lose a lot of fluid. Therefore, if you are sick, try to drink 2 litres of water a day. If you can, supplement this with liquids that are rich with nutrition, such as vegetable or chicken soup.
  • Use eye drops - If you have a cold or the flu, you can quickly develop dry, burning eyes. To relieve any irritation, you can use eye drops, which will soothe and hydrate eyes. Many eye drops can be used while wearing your contact lenses. Just be sure not to fall asleep in your contact lenses if you’re struggling with increased tiredness, as this is bad for your eyes.
  • Eat healthy - Once you're feeling better and want to eat something, choose something that is easy to digest and nutritious. You need to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to strengthen itself. For example, a banana is a good source of carbohydrates and fibre.
  • Use daily contact lenses - When you’re sick, you may prefer to wear glasses over contact lenses. As soon as you feel a bit better you could choose to wear daily contact lenses . You simply throw away daily contact lenses at the end of the day. The next day, grab a new, clean pair of lenses. This is efficient, and ensures the highest level of optical hygiene.
  • Protect others - Not feeling well? Self-isolate and begin social distancing as soon as possible. Avoid social contacts and stay at home. Don't meet up with friends or family and socially distance yourself from home deliveries. Avoid close contact with those you live with, and keep at least a meter distance. Do you think you have COVID-19? Take a lateral flow test, or make an appointment for a COVID-19 PCR test. Then stay home until you have the results and are sure that you do not have the virus.
  • Washing hands - Wash your hands well with soap or antiviral hand wash with water regularly. This can drastically reduce the number of virus particles. And should you cough or sneeze without a tissue to hand, be sure to sneeze into the inside of your elbow, and not into your hands.

Help with irritated eyes: eye drops

everclear eye drops

If you suffer from dry, irritated, or watery eyes, be sure to check out our everclear eye drop. You can use these eye drops if you wear contact lenses, and they will bring relief to irritated eyes. Thanks to the unique natural formula, your eyes immediately feel comfortable again. In addition, these eye drops have a perfect price-quality ratio. And because you can order eye drops online, you don't have to leave the house. Very useful if you’re not feeling your best!

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