Do You Have COVID-19 Or The Flu? What’s The Difference?

By now, most men, women, and even children are aware of the primary symptoms and signs of COVID-19, such as fever and cough. However, with flu season quickly approaching, it may be difficult to tell which virus is causing your symptoms. The knowledgeable team of board-certified emergency room physicians and professional staff at iCare ER & Urgent Care in Fort Worth and Frisco, TX is dedicated to providing quick, accurate, and reliable testing for COVID-19 and influenza to help patients receive the appropriate treatment and get rapid relief. Use this valuable information to better understand the differences between coronavirus and the flu, including what steps to take if you are experiencing symptoms of either.


What’s the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

While both COVID-19 and influenza are primarily respiratory illnesses, each is caused by a unique virus and has a variety of other differences in terms of symptom complex, onset of illness, and other characteristics. Coronavirus itself can sometimes be relatively harmless. In fact, a particular strain of coronavirus actually causes the common cold. However, exposure to a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for COVID-19, which can cause serious illness and potentially fatal complications for some patients. The seasonal flu, on the other hand, is caused by the influenza virus. Influenza also has a number of different strains and mutates regularly, which is why a new flu vaccine is introduced each year.


How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19?

For some patients, the symptoms of COVID-19 may be minimal or even completely absent, while others may experience severe symptoms. This is also the case with influenza, though most patients with the flu typically show at least mild signs of illness. Common signs and symptoms shared by both the flu and COVID-19 include:


  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat


Although not every patient will experience identical symptoms, there are a few unique signs and symptoms to look out for that may mean you are more likely to have either COVID-19 or the flu. For example, a sudden loss of smell or taste may be indicative of COVID-19, while a runny nose, stuffiness, or sinus congestion is often associated with the flu.


Because many COVID-19 symptoms mimic the signs and symptoms of other conditions, including the flu, it can, understandably, be difficult to know which virus may be at work, particularly as we enter flu season. Fortunately, advanced flu testing and COVID-19 testing are available at iCare ER & Urgent Care in Fort Worth and Frisco to help patients find out with certainty which condition they may have.


What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or think you may have been exposed to the virus, it is important to get tested at your nearest ER immediately. At both of our iCare ER & Urgent Care locations in Frisco and Fort Worth, we offer three types of COVID-19 tests in the emergency room side of our unique hybrid dual-service facility, including:


  • BioFire PCR: An extremely sensitive, high-quality antigen test that offers 97% accuracy in identifying an active COVID-19 infection in as few as 2 – 3 days after exposure. In most cases, patients receive their PCR test results on the same day.


  • Sofia SARS antigen: A nasal or throat swab test that provides rapid results, often in less than an hour, to confirm an active infection. However, antigen testing is less sensitive than PCR testing and may result in a false negative for some patients.


  • Antibody: A blood test that confirms the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, meaning the patient has been infected previously or may currently be infected with COVID-19. This test should be performed at least ten days after exposure to COVID-19, and the results are usually available in just a few hours.


Following your COVID-19 test, you will be contacted with your results as soon as they are available. Patients are encouraged to remain in self-quarantine until they have received a negative result, regardless of their symptoms. If you do receive a positive COVID-19 test, it is critical that you follow the CDC’s guidelines and remain in self-isolation for at least ten days from the onset of your symptoms. If your symptoms are still present after ten days, you should remain quarantined and isolated until you are symptom-free for 72 hours.


Guard your health and go into flu season with confidence by knowing your testing and treatment options in North Texas

As we head into flu season during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be more important than ever to understand the differences between flu and COVID-19, including which signs and symptoms to be aware of. Patients are also encouraged to consider getting a flu shot early in the season to ensure the maximum amount of protection against the virus. While there is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, patients can minimize their risk of exposure by following social distancing and sanitation guidelines.


Should you need to be tested for COVID-19 or the flu, rest assured that our board-certified emergency room physicians and professional staff at iCare ER & Urgent Care maintain the highest levels of cleanliness and follow all the recommendations provided by the CDC. For more information about COVID-19 testing or to book an appointment for coronavirus tests in Fort Worth or Frisco, TX, visit our COVID-19 – What You Need to Know page.