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COVID-19 vs. flu symptoms: As delta variant spreads, keep these CDC pages handy for early signs

Flu season is upon us, and the CDC has a page dedicated to the differences and similarities between the flu and COVID-19.

COVID-19 vs. flu symptoms: As delta variant spreads, keep these CDC pages handy for early signs
[Photo: Diana Polekhina /Unsplash]

Fall is here and kids are back in school, which means flu season can’t be far off. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season usually starts around October, and the agency is recommending that people get flu shots by the end of that month. Of course, the season will be even more complicated this year thanks to that other virus. COVID-19 infections are still averaging more than 100,000 a day, according to the data tracker from The New York Times, largely due to the ongoing spread of the delta variant.

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With the potential for duel viruses battling to infect us this fall, it’s a good idea to be informed about symptoms to look out for. The CDC has an informative page dedicated to the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and influenza, and some of the details may surprise you.

For instance, did you know that at least nine symptoms are common for both viruses? According to the CDC, they include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

One difference between the two viruses is “change in or loss of taste or smell,” which the CDC says can happen with the flu but is more common with COVID-19. The agency also has pages dedicated to flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms separately.

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Here are some noted differences about when symptoms first appear according to the CDC:

  • Flu: Typically, a person experiences symptoms anywhere from one to four days after infection.
  • COVID-19: Typically, a person experiences symptoms about five days after being infected, but symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after infection.

The whole page is worth checking out and maybe bookmarking to keep for the rest of the season. It includes sections about complications, how the viruses spread, who is at higher risk for severe illness, and treatments and vaccines. Find it here.

Additional resources

Finally, nothing beats an old-fashioned chart. The CDC has tracker pages for the flu (FluView) and COVID-19 (COVID Data Tracker), both of which can help you learn if the viruses are spreading in your community.

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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