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Coronavirus symptoms: Allergies, the flu or coronavirus? How to tell the difference

Coronavirus has infected nearly 200,000 people around the world and the number is increasing daily. Countries are imposing strict measures to prevent further spread and resulting deaths, with the UK asking residents to “distance” themselves from one another.

Coronavirus – COVID-19 – is a virus which scientists are still learning about, having first surfaced in December 2019.

As such, a cure or vaccine are yet to be developed, which is why such strict tactics to avoid spread are in place.

Around the world, nearly 8,000 people have died from coronavirus, mostly those who are elderly and had pre-existing conditions.

While for some, symptoms can be mild, for others they can progress to pneumonia, organ failure and death.

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How can you tell the difference between symptoms of coronavirus, allergies or the flu?

With the UK Government asking anyone with a cough or fever to stay home, some confusion around the symptoms of coronavirus might be expected.

Symptoms of both the flu and coronavirus can appear similar, including

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Cough

All of these symptoms can worsen over time for both flu and coronavirus.

In terms of allergies, symptoms are itchy eyes, blocked or stuffy nose and sneezing.

If you have a runny nose, itchy eyes or stuffy nose you could be either suffering from a common cold or allergies.

Coronavirus can go a step further than the flu, and impact the respiratory system causing shortness of breath.

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Both flu and coronavirus tend to affect the whole body, so aches and tiredness are likely.

Like with the flu, coronavirus can impact people differently – some feeling worse than others.

Those with underlying health conditions, in particular, can develop worse symptoms. 

Some people may carry coronavirus but feel no symptoms at all, but are still able to pass it on to others.

Which symptoms mean you should stay home?

The NHS advises you should stay at home if you have either

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

How long should you self-isolate for?

NHS advice states: 

  • if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

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  • Posted on March 18, 2020