How do you know what you’ve got? The common cold, influenza and COVID-19 have some overlap in their symptoms. We asked Dr. Christine Alexander, MetroHealth System’s chair of family medicine, to help us compare the three illnesses and determine
when it’s important to seek medical help.
+comes on gradually over several days +low-grade temperature (99.5 or below) or no fever +fairly mild body aches +headache +runny nose +scratchy throat +congestion
+comes on suddenly and with force +high fever (above 100.5) +severe body aches +feeling wiped out or exhausted +cough +headache +shaking chills +possible symptoms can also include a scratchy throat, GI issues
+comes on suddenly +high fever (above 100.5) +severe body aches +feeling wiped out or exhausted +cough +headache +loss of smell +loss of taste +possible symptoms can also include a scratchy throat, congestion, GI issues
The Bottom Line
If you’re experiencing influenza or COVID-19 symptoms and are unsure what to do next, Alexander suggests you call MetroHealth’s COVID-19 careline at 440-59-COVID. “Our COVID hotline is open to anyone who is experiencing symptoms, whether they are a patient or not,” says Alexander. “You can call in and be assessed. If more is needed, having spoken to us offers a good starting point [for in-person evaluation].” She also notes that anyone experiencing shortness of breath needs to be evaluated in person. “Shortness of breath is a very worrisome symptom and seeking care would be really important,” she says, even if the patient does not have an underlying respiratory condition.