How To Differentiate Between Seasonal Flu And Covid-19 Symptoms?
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As we approach the winter months, the chances of people catching the seasonal flu increases by manifolds. The seasonal flu is usually caused by the influenza virus and its symptoms range from mild to moderate and rarely severe. Luckily though, the majority of people make a complete and quick recovery. 

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has still not been eradicated successfully and new cases continue to emerge all over the country. Although the number of cases has undoubtedly decreased, we still cannot hide from the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much present in Pakistan. With coronavirus symptoms being similar to those of the seasonal flu, there is a high risk of people mistaking the two illnesses. This means that patients can either underestimate or overestimate the severity of their illness. Leading to either not enough precautions being taken or unnecessary panic.

However, it must be remembered that although both illnesses affect the upper respiratory tract, and have similar presentations, they are inherently different diseases caused by completely different organisms. The coronavirus is a novel virus and the world is still trying to come to terms with the widespread death it has caused. There is very little concrete information about the virus and scientists are working round the clock to find out more. Therefore, although there are differences in symptoms, the most accurate way to find out if you have the seasonal flu or coronavirus is by getting yourself tested. But, if your symptoms are not too severe, you can simply isolate yourself for the required time. This way you will avoid spreading either virus to any other person.

Covid-19 Vs Seasonal Flu

Incubation Period

The incubation period of the seasonal flu is usually short, ranging from 1 to 4 days. While the incubation period of the coronavirus is from 2 to 14 days.


The most common symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, shortness of breath, cough, and fatigue. Less common symptoms include body ache, runny nose, headache, sore throat, nausea and diarrhoea and loss of taste and smell.

Common symptoms for the seasonal flu include chills, runny nose, fever, cough, fatigue, body ache, and headache. Less common symptoms include nausea or diarrhoea. 

Onset Of Symptoms

The onset of symptoms for the coronavirus is gradual, while it is rapid for the seasonal flu


Although the disease may be contagious in asymptomatic coronavirus patients, individuals exhibiting symptoms carry a higher risk of spreading the disease.

For the seasonal flu, however, individuals can spread the disease 1 day before symptoms appear till 5 days after.


The coronavirus exhibits different severities in different individuals. Although symptoms may be mild for some individuals, others might require hospitalisation. Symptoms usually worsen during the second week of the disease.

The influenza virus often has mild to moderate symptoms that typically resolve in a week and rarely require hospitalisation.

Medications and Vaccines

There are currently no specifically approved medications or vaccines for the coronavirus. However, there is a seasonal vaccine available for the flu causing influenza virus, besides this numerous anti-viral medicines also exist.


The seasonal flu and coronavirus are both viral illnesses that have similar initial presentations. However, unlike the flu, coronavirus can lead to severe disease and death. As the winter months approach, people are bound to get the flu. This may cause panic in individuals who might mistake the seasonal flu for coronavirus. However, it is advised for individuals exhibiting such symptoms to isolate themselves immediately and consult a physician immediately if symptoms worsen.

To consult with a healthcare professional, log on to or download the Shifaam health App now from Google Play ( or the iOS App Store ( and connect with your healthcare provider safely from home.


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