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How to tell the difference between COVID-19 and and other illnesses

Take your temperature. A symptom of COVID-19 that sets it apart from the flu, a cold, or allergies is a fever over 100 degrees. Another is shortness of breath.

A flu, cold, allergies, and a coronavirus all have similar symptoms, but they are distinctive enough to tell the difference. If any doubt, however, anyone with these symptoms should seek professional help for a diagnosis.


Grass pollen is high now in the Coastal Bend, with tree pollen in the low range. Ragweed is virtually nonexistent at this time of year. Allergy sufferers usually have the following symptoms:

• runny nose

• sneezing

• red, swollen, eyes

• itchy eyes and nose

• throat tickle

A fever is rare.


Flu season began in October in the Coastal Bend and generally peaks in February. It usually runs its course by May, although, of course, this year is extremely unusual because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The following are common flu symptoms:

• sudden onset

• fever or chills

• cough, sore throat

• runny or congested nose

• achy body

• headache

• severe fatigue

• sometimes diarrhea


Cold and flu seasons are simultaneous: October-May. Symptoms, which peak within two to three days, are:

• sneezing

• runny or congested nose

• cough, sore throat

• post-nasal drip

• watery eyes

Fever is rare.


• gradual onset, up to 14 days after exposure

• often begins with headache or other aches and pains

• shortness of breath

• fever above 100 degrees

• dry cough

• mild sneezing

Fatigue and diarrhea are rare symptoms of COVID-19. Some fatigue may be noted, but not as severely as with the flu.

Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 are:

• difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

• persistent pain or pressure in the chest

• new confusion or inability to arouse

• bluish lips or face

COVID-19 is highly contagious. The first step for getting tested is to call your doctor or emergency room. Do not go in unless they know you are coming so that precautions can be taken.

If you think you have the coronavirus, please contact the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District at 361-826-7200, and a representative will give you instructions. Check the city’s webpage for more information.

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