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How to tell if it's COVID, a cold, or the flu

Posted at 10:03 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 07:23:36-05

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Health Department says that symptoms for COVID-19, a cold, and the flu can be very similar but there are some differences to keep an eye out for.

Symptoms for the common cold often show up slowly and are not as severe, according to Pima County Health Department Deputy Director Paula Mandel.

"You know you feel tired, you don't feel good," Mandel said. "You may have a runny nose, you may have a stuffy nose. You typically don't see a fever and you don't typically see body aches."

When it comes to the flu and COVID-19 a lot of the symptoms are more severe and show up abruptly.

"You will probably see fever, chills, body aches, headaches, runny nose, stuffy nose, and headaches," Mandel said. "You also may see vomiting or diarrhea."

One major difference between the flu and COVID-19 is the loss of smell and taste. This is a sign that you have COVID-19 and not the flu, according to Mandel.

"If you're symptomatic, you're not feeling well, good idea to go ahead and get tested," Mandel said.

Those who are vaccinated may have less severe symptoms or have no symptoms at all. If you are a close contact with someone who has recently tested positive, you should get a test, Mandel said.

After many gathered over the holidays, Mandel expects the number of cases to rise in the county.

"We are going to be anxious to see what the next couple of weeks bring as people return back from travelling and they start going back to their normal routines," Mandel said. "We may see an increase in our number again."

If you are looking to find a testing location or an at-home test from the county, click here. Your local pharmacy may also have tests available.

The Pima County Health Department also recommends that people who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated. If you are looking for a vaccine or booster shot, click here.

If you test positive for COVID-19, Mandel said that you should wait 90 days before getting your first dose or your booster shot.