Allergies, Cold, Flu or COVID-19?

Symptoms of a cold, flu, COVID-19 and even allergies can be similar. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health provide the following most common symptoms, all of which may vary from person to person. Please note that information continues to evolve about COVID-19.

Symptoms & Signs Allergies Cold Flu COVID-19
Symptom Timing Gradual or chronic Gradual Symptoms typically appear 1-4 days after infection Symptoms typically appear 5 days after infection, but can be as soon as 2 days and up to 14 days
Fever or feeling feverish Never Rare Sometimes Typical
Chills Never Uncommon Typical Typical
Headache Uncommon Uncommon Typical Typical
Muscle pain or body aches Never Slight Typical Typical
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes Typical Typical
Cough Sometimes Mild to moderate Typical Typical
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath Unusual, except for conditions such as asthma Uncommon Typical Typical
Sore throat Sometimes Common Sometimes Sometimes
Runny or stuffy nose Common Common Sometimes Sometimes
Sneezing Typical Common Sometimes Not common
Vomiting and diarrhea Never Rare More common in children than adults Typical
New Loss of taste or smell Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Typical

Colds, the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, and the difference can be undetectable by symptoms alone. Seek a test to confirm a diagnosis. Please don’t delay care.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health

Sign Up for Health Tips

Get our advice and upcoming events about weight, pain, heart and more.

Find a Doctor

Use Our Physician Finder