There is a family of virus known as coronaviruses – animals and humans get infected by these. Less severe upper respiratory sickness in humans is caused by different types of coronaviruses, while chronic respiratory problems are caused by others like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
From China in 2019, a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 was identified and has been spread globally. This virus is responsible for the respiratory problem referred to as Covid-19.
Since covid-19 comes with high complications like pneumonia and difficulty breathing, it is crucial you know its signs and symptoms, as well as the difference from other health conditions.
This is what we would be discussing in this article in addition to action plans you can take should you have been exposed.
Symptoms of covid-19 and other conditions
|Main symptoms||Uncommon symptoms|
|Covid-19||Fever, cough, breathlessness, fatigue||Loss of taste or smell, chills, headache, consistent shaking with chills, nausea or diarrhoea, pain and aches in the muscle, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose|
|Seasonal Flu (Influenza)||Fatigue, headache, aches in the body or muscles, cough, fever with chills||Diarrhoea, nausea, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing|
|Common Cold||Sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, cough, mild to moderate chest pain||Body aches, fatigue|
|Seasonal Allergies (Hay fever)||Sneezing, itchy skin, eyes, or mouth, runny or stuffy nose||Breathlessness, wheezing, fatigue caused by zero sleep|
The CDC reports that SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of 4 to 5 days on average. But it can be different from anywhere between 2 to 14 days.There are asymptomatic cases of SARS-CoV-2. You may be infected with the virus but show zero symptoms. Should there be symptoms, they’re minor and slowly progressive.
Very common covid-19 symptoms are:
In some cases, additional symptoms may appear including:
- Loss of smell or taste
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Pains and aches in the muscle
- Consistent shaking/chills
- A sore throat
According to certain observations, a worse respiratory symptom may happen in the second week – after about 8 days.
Around 1 in 5 covid-19-infected persons develop serious conditions like respiratory failure and pneumonia, a report from WHO says. These patients may need mechanical ventilation or oxygen.
Difference between covid-19 and cold symptoms
Common cold can arise from many types of viruses,including common cold. 10 to 30% of upper respiratory infections in adults is caused by an estimated 4 types of human coronaviruses.
See symptoms of cold:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Body pains and aches
So, what’s the difference? Typical signs of a cold are runny nose and a sore throat, but these are not common with covid-19. Again, common cold isn’t characterised by fever. Get a coronavirus swab test to know your symptoms well.
Difference between covid-19 and flu symptoms
Though these two are usually compared, they are different. How? The flu has a sudden outbreak of symptoms, while covid-19 symptoms are slowly progressive.
See common flu symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Body aches and pains
From the foregoing, symptoms that are common to the flu are uncommon with covid-19.
See the WHO’s notable differences between these two health conditions:
- Covid-19 has a longer period of incubation than the flu
- Flu-infected persons can spread the disease before showing symptoms, but it’s not so in covid-19
- Serious symptoms and complications arise in covid-19 than the flu
- Children are less frequently affected by the flu than covid-19
- Right now, there are no antiviral medications or vaccines for covid-19, but the flu has available relief medications
Difference between covid-19 and hay fever symptoms
Also known as allergic rhinitis, the hay fever is a health condition that can bring about respiratory symptoms. This happens when you’re exposed to allergens in your environment, including:
- Pet dander
See symptoms of hay fever:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Itchy eyes, throat, or nose
- Swollen eyelids
A typical symptom of hay fever is itching which is very uncommon to covid-19. Again, symptoms such as breathlessness or fever are not found in hay fever.
What to do if you have covid-19 symptoms
Are you having symptoms of covid-19? You can adopt the following measures:
- Observe your symptoms – Covid-19 patients may not need to stay over at the hospital. But you should keep an eye on your symptoms as they may become more severe in the second week of the infection
- Get in touch with a doctor – This is very important even if you have mild symptoms. Call your healthcare provider to inform them of symptoms and any risk of exposure
- Undergo a screening – Together with local health authorities and the CDC, your doctor can help determine if you require covid-19 test
- Self-quarantine – Make arrangements to stay isolated until any symptoms have disappeared. Avoid contact with other people in the home in ways like using a separate bathroom and bedroom as much as possible
- Seek medical care – Quick medical attention should be sought where symptoms get serious. Make sure you call ahead before getting to a clinic and put on a face mask or cloth covering if you have one
What risks are there?
More chances of getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 abound if you’re:
- Staying or travelling to a place where there are more cases of covid-19 spreading rapidly
- Close to confirmed infected persons
According to the CDC, older adults, people up to 65 years and above, and those with the following health conditions have a greater risk of developing chronic illness:
- Kidney disease
- Severe heart conditions like cardiomyopathies, coronary artery disease, or heart failure
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- An immune system that’s weak due to solid organ transplant
- Obesity, typically in persons having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above
How to stay safe from the new coronavirus
The following guidelines will do a defensive work against SARS-CoV-2:
- Hand washing regularly with soap and warm water. Alternatively, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with a minimum of 60% alcohol
- Don’t touch your face or mouth without washing your hands as you might spread the virus to these body parts
- Don’t come close to sick persons. Should you be near someone who’s coughing or sneezing, stay at least 6 feet away from them
- Don’t share materials and personal items with people. This includes drinking glasses and eating utensils
- Make sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze by doing it in the crook of your elbow or a tissue. Trash used tissue
- Should you be sick, make arrangements to stay at home and get enough rest
- Make use of household cleaning sprays or wipes to clean surfaces that are frequently touched like doorknobs, countertops, seats, etc
- Update yourself on recent happenings surrounding covid-19. The CDC and WHO give reports from time to time
Covid-19 is characterised mainly by cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and fever. It is a respiratory disease that stems from the new SARS-CoV-2.
Based on how severe it can get, it’s very crucial you learn the symptoms and difference from others.
Experiencing symptoms of covid-19? Contact your doctor and stay at home till you get better. Your doctor will help you with deciding when you should get tested. Should symptoms get worse, get emergency help at once.
The first at-home Covid-19 test kit was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, FDA in April, 2020. With the swab in the kit, you can take a nasal sample and send it to a particular lab for testing via mail. The EUA (emergency use authorisation) has declared the use of this kit, particularly for doctor-diagnosed Covid-19 patients. You can get a coronavirus swab test in London.
Right now there are vaccines or antivirals for covid-19, but measures like washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, and resting at home when sick can be of great help to curb your chances of contracting the disease and spreading to other people.