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Common Cold vs. Flu vs. COVID

You or a child comes down sick one day and you want to know-what’s the bug going around this time? The most common culprits are likely the common cold, flu, or COVID. Let’s go over the different signs and symptoms of each.

The flu, colds, and COVID have a variety of different symptoms that are common, rare, or occasionally occur. If you have a runny nose and sore throat, you likely have the common cold. If you have a fever, headache, and aches it is likely the flu.

The only definitive way to know what illness you’ve contracted is to get a test at your doctor’s office or urgent care. They will usually take a swab of your nose or throat to determine what is causing your symptoms. Some kits can even test for multiple illnesses with the same swab.


If your infection is bacterial, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to help clear it up. If your infection is viral, antibiotics do not work on viruses. They must run their course, so you can take pain relievers and comfort medications to help with the symptoms.


COVID symptoms generally resolve within a week or two, the flu usually resolves within four to seven days, and the common cold usually resolves within three to ten days. Coughing, sneezing, and other symptoms that spread the virus contribute to being contagious and giving the germs to other people.


Vitamin C, zinc, throat lozenges, pain relievers, and decongestants can help you feel a little better while you are sick. Be sure not to double up on compounded drugs. If you are taking multiple medications with the same kind of ingredient (ibuprofen), take care not to take too much.


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