COVID-19 vs. Flu Symptoms

If you feel sick, how do you know whether you have COVID-19 or the flu? Both illnesses are categorized as contagious respiratory conditions, but they are brought on by different viruses. A new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19, while various strains of the influenza virus cause the flu.

Since COVID-19 and the flu share many of the same symptoms, it can be difficult to tell them apart. You may need to visit your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department for COVID testing and a confirmed diagnosis. In the meantime, compare these COVID-19 symptoms and symptoms of the flu. Then, remember to self-quarantine at home if you don’t feel well.

COVID & Flu Symptoms: Similarities

Both COVID-19 and the flu can manifest in different ways. Symptoms may range from none at all (asymptomatic) to life-threatening. Here are the symptoms that COVID and the flu have in common:

  • Fever
  • Chills and feeling “feverish”
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

COVID & Flu Symptoms: Differences


All of the shared symptoms listed above can be present if you have the flu. Symptoms typically appear within one to four days after infection. Please note that not everyone who has the flu develops a fever, and vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children than adults.

Flu infections typically last a few days or no longer than two weeks. While most people recover without incident, some patients develop complications, including pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Sinus and ear infections are other common examples of flu complications.


COVID patients have reported a wide range of symptoms, which can appear between two and 14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. The most common symptoms that usually don’t apply to the flu include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell

If you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should self-quarantine at home and seek testing four to five days after exposure, even if you don’t develop symptoms. You can spread COVID if you are asymptomatic, so testing is important to know whether you should stay in quarantine.

To request medical care for mild symptoms, call your primary care doctor for advice. Then, if you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other highly concerning medical problems, call 911 or seek treatment at your nearest emergency room immediately.

Emergency COVID Care in Texas

Exceptional Emergency Center is a freestanding emergency hospital providing COVID-19 evaluations and treatment in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Livingston, Lubbock, Port Arthur, Saches/Garland, Orange, and Tyler, TX. We do everything possible to keep you, your family, and our staff safe from the spread of COVID-19 by using effective cleaning supplies, wearing PPE, and following CDC guidelines.

Book your COVID-19 appointment online with us today to enjoy the best ER care in Texas.

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The Exceptional Emergency Room staff and physicians care about you and your loved ones. We are here 24/7 for all your emergency care needs.

  1. If you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other emergent medical problems, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately at your nearest Emergency Room.
  2. To provide the highest quality emergency medical care to our communities, we are directing all routine COVID testing to outpatient community resources.
  3. Testing through local resources, including your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department, is appropriate under the following circumstances:
    1. If you have been exposed to a person known to have COVID, and you do not have symptoms, we recommend that you self-quarantine at home and seek testing 4-5 days after exposure. It often takes this long for the infection to be detected by routine lab testing.
    2. If you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, outpatient testing is also typically appropriate.
    3. Please follow this link for local COVID testing resources.
  4. If you have tested negative, you should still self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of suspected exposure as it can take anywhere from 2-14 days to come down with symptoms of this infection.
  5. Please kindly limit your phone time with our Emergency Rooms as the phone lines are needed to communicate with other health care entities and to provide patients their test results. Thank you for your understanding during this trying time.