Similarities and Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

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Fall is approaching which means flu season is also. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have heard that the coronavirus is similar to the flu.2 Both are contagious respiratory illnesses, but there are some key differences between the two.3

 Similarities Between COVID-19 and the Flu

For both COVID-19 and the flu, one or more days can pass between when a person becomes infected and when he or she starts to experience symptoms.1 Both of these viruses can spread in similar ways. They spread through respiratory droplets or aerosols released while talking, sneezing, or walking.2 COVID-19 and the flu have many signs and symptoms including:2

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or body ached

The signs and symptoms for these viruses can range from no symptoms to mild or severe.2 COVID-19 and the flu can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, organ failure, heart attacks or stroke.2

Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

A few key differences between COVID-19 and the flu are:

  • While with COVID-19, you may experience symptoms two to 14 days after exposure, flu symptoms normally appear about one to four days after exposure.2
  • Severe illnesses are more frequent with COVID-19.2
  • A person with COVID-19 is contagious for a longer time than if they had the flu.1
  • COVID-19 is generally more contagious than flu viruses.1
  • COVID-19 illnesses resulting in hospitalization and death can occur even in healthy people.1

How may COVID-19 affect this year’s flu season?

During this year’s flu season, it is possible that the viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu may spread at the same time.2 There are a few steps that you can take to reduce your risk of infection from both viruses:

  • Getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccine
  • Avoid close contact with anyone outside your household2
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds2
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze2
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth2

How can Tria help?

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Many of our patients are at a higher risk for serious illness with COVID-19 and the flu. Our pharmacists have been actively educating engaged patients on risk factors and the importance of prevention techniques. We are committed to assisting members with any questions they may have about their medications, risk factors or ways they can mitigate their risk. 

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19​ | CDC
  2. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vs. flu: Similarities and differences – Mayo Clinic
  3. Similarities and Differences Between Flu and COVID-19 | University of Utah Health

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