【Flu Season】Different Symptoms of COVID, Flu and Cold



Increasing number of flu A infections has been recorded in Hong Kong recently. People might have underestimated the damage of the flu virus after the COVID-19 pandemic, but a late treatment for flu might cause serious complications including bronchitis, pneumonia or even death. Flu should not be ignored, so let’s take a look at the different symptoms of COVID-19, flu and common cold.

Comparison of Common Symptoms

The mode of transmission of the 3 viruses include through respiratory droplets or contact of contaminated surfaces or objects, and they all share very similar symptoms of infection. Whilst the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are generally more severe and can affect your whole body rather than just your upper respiratory tract. Common symptoms are as follows:

✔️ Common  ⦿ Sometimes/Rarely    ❌ No

Affecting areaWhole body
Whole body
ConditionsSudden worseningGradually worsening
Brain fog⦿
Loss of taste/smell✔️
Red, swollen eyes⦿
Skin rashes⦿
Sore throat✔️✔️
Shortness of breath⦿✔️
Stuffy nose⦿
Runny nose✔️✔️
Chest pain⦿✔️
Muscle pain✔️✔️

Symptoms listed above are for references only, different types of flus or variants of coronavirus may induce varying symptoms.

Comparison of Incubation, Infectious and Recovery Periods

Incubation1-4 days after infection
2-5 days after infection (~3 days for Omicron)
Infectious1 day before symptom begin till 5-7 days of the illness 2-3 days before symptom begin till 8-10 days of the illness
Recovery5-7 days
3-14 days (depends)

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Complications Triggered By Different Infections

Mutual complications of flu and COVID-19 include pneumonia, respiratory failure, acute dyspnea syndrome, septicemia, thromboembolism/multiple organ failure, worsening chronic disease, myocarditis and encephalitis etc. However, 10-20% of COVID-19 patients may experience “long covid” – incl. an extended period of fatigue and other symptoms in respiratory tract and nerve system. Generally, immunocompromised and elderly persons have a higher risk of developing the above complications.

Rare complications of cold include bronchitis, pneumonia, otitis media and sinusitis etc.

Therefore, you should consult a doctor and receive treatment in case of discomfort.