Allergies, cold, flu, coronavirus: How to tell the difference in symptoms

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — News of the novel coronavirus dominates the headlines, but allergy season is approaching, and many of us have already or are currently suffering from the cold or flu.

So how do you tell the difference between them all?

The threat of COVID-19, novel coronavirus, comes as many Americans still battle the flu.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist with Baptist Memorial Hospital, said doctors are dealing daily with flu and cold symptoms.

“It’s difficult to say, ‘Oh it’s the cough,’ because half the people that come into a healthcare facility in the winter months are going to have a cough,” Threlkeld said.

Screening is the first step to telling a difference between COVID-19 and the flu.

In what we’ve seen so far the coronavirus cases typically have context.

“Where they’ve been, exactly what they’ve done, have they been at an event that might be publicized where people were sick, but we haven’t heard of anyone being sick there,” Threlkeld said.

Experts said allergies tend to usually include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and stuffy or runny nose, and most of the symptoms are localized to your head.

COVID -19 and the flu can have overlapping symptoms like fever and coughing, which is why testing is so important. 

“Whether that’s COVID-19 or not, if you have fever and shortness of breath, you need to seek medical help, or at the very least call you doctor, no matter what it is,” Threlkeld said.

Those who experience the adverse effects of coronavirus tend to be older. For younger people, sometimes they could never know it’s the virus because the symptoms are not as severe.

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