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Differences between COVID-19, flu and colds

As summer ends, many of us might catch one of these illnesses.  

September 20, 2023

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When fall and winter sends many of us indoors, we spend more time with others in closed and public spaces. Since COVID-19, we’re doing more to keep ourselves safe, but we can still come down with other viruses like the flu or colds.

 “We get a lot of questions from people who are worried they have COVID-19,” said Dr. Anil Venugopal, Optum. “Luckily, that's not always the case.”

But how do you know what's causing that sneeze, fever or achy feeling?

“It's impossible to tell by signs and symptoms alone,” Dr. Venugopal said. “If you have new symptoms, get tested for COVID-19. This is especially important if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.”

Learn more about the differences between:

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When to get care for COVID-19

If you have any of these warning signs for COVID-19, get care right away:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Can't wake up or can't stay awake
  • Blue lips or face

Don’t wait, get your shots today

Get your flu and COVID-19 shots at an Optum location near you. 

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.