As the season approaches, people are hyper-aware of any winter symptoms they experience that put them at risk of contracting the flu or COVID-19.
However, it can be tricky to distinguish between the flu, COVID-19, allergies, and just a common cold.
Understanding the differences between these conditions can help you get the right treatment and stay ahead of your health concerns.
Here is your guide on identifying your symptoms this winter so that you can take the right steps to stay healthy.
Understanding the Common Winter Symptoms
A cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract.
Cold symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and mild body aches. Unlike the flu, a cold usually does not cause a fever or extreme fatigue.
A cold is caused by various viruses and is spread through respiratory droplets.
For the common cold, rest and hydration are key. Over-the-counter medications can assist in managing symptoms like a runny nose, congestion, and body aches.
Vitamin C and zinc are often promoted as useful for boosting the immune system during a cold.
If you have a cold, rest, drink fluids, and take over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms.
The flu and COVID-19 have a lot in common. Both respiratory illnesses can cause fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches.
However, the flu usually occurs quickly, while COVID-19 symptoms can develop over a few days. Some additional flu symptoms include sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and headache.
The flu is caused by different influenza virus strains and is spread through respiratory droplets.
Flu remedies often include antiviral medications, if prescribed within the first 48 hours of symptoms, rest, hydration, and over-the-counter symptom relief medications.
If you think you have the flu, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Allergies are more common in the spring and summer, but some people experience symptoms year-round.
Allergies are not contagious, but their symptoms can be like those of the flu or COVID-19.
Some common allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and a runny nose. If you have allergies, you may also experience fatigue and headaches.
Common remedies include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants, often in the form of nasal sprays, eye drops, or oral medication.
Lifestyle changes like avoiding known allergens and using air purifiers can also help.
If your symptoms are mild, you can take over-the-counter medications or avoid exposure to allergens. However, see a doctor if your symptoms are severe or disrupt your daily life.
COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe.
The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Some people also experience headaches, fatigue, and body aches.
Unlike the flu, COVID-19 can cause loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and spreads through respiratory droplets.
COVID-19 should be treated under medical supervision. As advised by health authorities, current treatments include antiviral medication, steroids to reduce inflammation, and oxygen therapy in severe cases.
If you think you may have COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and contact a healthcare professional.
How to Protect Yourself this Winter
Whether dealing with allergies, the flu, COVID-19, or a cold, the best way to protect yourself from any virus is to take preventative measures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, practicing social distancing, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals.
Getting a flu shot and staying current on other vaccinations can help you stay healthy.
Staying Healthy Throughout Winter
Understanding the differences between the flu, COVID-19, allergies, and a common cold is important to ensure you take the right steps toward your health and well-being.
By seeking prompt medical attention and taking necessary precautions, you can prevent the spread of these illnesses and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Remember to stay vigilant, protect yourself, and contact a healthcare provider if you experience any severe symptoms or complications.
Don’t let the cold, flu, allergies, or even COVID-19 compromise your workplace’s health and safety this winter.
Axiom Medical offers comprehensive health and safety solutions, including timely illness reporting, to ensure swift and effective responses to health concerns.
We can equip you with the tools and knowledge necessary to protect your workforce. Download our FREE white paper Flu Management in the Workplace and check out our free flu calculator tool to prepare for the upcoming season.
Let’s safeguard your team together.
Charli Pedersen works for Axiom Medical as their Content Marketing Specialist. She has her bachelor’s degree in English, Professional and Technical Writing and previous experience with creating content for businesses and non-profit organizations.