With Flu season around the corner, many are wondering if their persistent cough is COVID or Flu? We look at how tracking your health can help you tell the difference.
Is My Cough COVID or Flu?
Persistent Cough and COVID-19
One of the COVID symptoms to be on the lookout for is a new continuous, or persistent cough. But what is a persistent cough, and how is it different from other coughs?
According to the NHS, a continuous cough is “coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.”
It’s important to note that many infections can cause a cough, especially during Flu season. The difference is the amount of coughing and intensity. It’s much more than a coughing fit now and then. Using a cough tracking app can help determine whether it’s a few isolated coughing fits or if it’s more serious.
For instance, if your cough keeps you awake at night or makes it difficult to talk, it’s time to consider COVID as the cause.
In addition to a notable cough, a high temperature, and a loss or change in smell and taste are signs you might have COVID. If you or a household member experience these symptoms, follow government guidelines and self-isolate.
COVID or Flu | How To Differentiate
Distinguishing between COVID and non-COVID bouts of coughing isn’t always easy, and many of those with coughs wonder if it’s necessary to self-isolate.
For this reason, the test-and-trace system needs an overhaul. Moreover, GPs need access to tests to help differentiate between COVID and other autumn bugs, primarily for high-risk patients.
Testing has become more readily available. But with the colder fall air comes coughs, and patients wanting a test could soon outnumber the tests available. So, while it might be tempting to get tested at the first sign of a sniffle, we should look at all symptoms to determine if we really need one.
- New, continuous cough
- Change in taste or smell
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Less frequent: Headache, vomiting/diarrhea, sputum or mucus production
- Body aches
- Fatigue or weakness
Common cold symptoms
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Watery eyes
- Wet or dry cough as the infection progresses
Despite the similarities, it’s unlikely that the most common symptoms will overlap.
For example, sneezing, swollen glands, and a stuffy nose are more likely to be the common cold than COVID or Flu. On the other hand, a severe cough isn’t typical of a cold. Likewise, body aches and congestion are indicative of the Flu rather than COVID.
Besides symptoms, you should also consider your risk factors. If you’re older than 65 or have pre-existing conditions and experience symptoms, it’s a good idea to get tested.
Regardless of your symptoms, if you have reason to believe you’ve contracted COVID-19, it’s best to self-isolate and speak to your doctor.
Tracking Your Health
Autumn and viral infections go hand in hand. And, most autumn bugs cause coughing. That is why tracking your symptoms during Flu season is the best way to stay on top of your health.
Keeping track of symptoms helps doctors assess your illness and gives you peace of mind if tests were to run out.
The idea is to keep track of when symptoms develop and how they progress. Most importantly, you want to monitor if symptoms are getting worse or better. The best practice is to include:
- When you start experiencing each symptom.
- Cough frequency
- Any medication you are taking, both prescription and over the counter.
After a few days of tracking your health, you or your doctor might notice a pattern that can help diagnose you. Besides, it may indicate if you need a COVID test much sooner.
- If you have a new persistent cough, fever, and taste and smell changes, follow government guidelines and self-isolate.
- Many viruses may cause a runny nose and a sore throat without coughing. And, not all coughing indicates COVID.
- Take all your symptoms into considerations before fearing the worst.
- Track your symptoms to stay on top of your health during the flu season.
- Contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
With Flu season around the corner, everyone is on high alert for any symptoms that point to COVID. Fortunately, these guidelines can help you decide if it’s COVID or Flu.
How concerned are you about COVID-19? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
What is a ‘persistent cough’, and what should I do if I have it? – theguardian.com