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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Covid symptoms: Is it a cold or coronavirus?

coronavirus face mask

More knowledge is being learned about coronavirus and what symptoms people should act on.

The NHS says people should look out for classic Covid symptoms:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A fever/high temperature
  • Loss of or change to smell or taste

But researchers say for some people, having Covid can feel “more like a bad cold” with symptoms such as a headache, sore throat and a runny nose.

If you think you may have Covid, it is important to get tested. Even people who don’t feel very ill can put others at risk.

A high temperature is 37.8C or above. A fever like this can happen when the body is fighting off any infection – not just coronavirus.

It is best to use a thermometer. But if you don’t have one, check if you, or the person you are worried about, feels hot to the touch on the chest or back.

A high temperature is unlikely with a cold. If you have a fever, arrange a coronavirus test.

Graphic showing how to take your temperature using different types of thermometers

What about a cough?

If you have a cold or flu you may well have a cough, along with other symptoms.

Flu usually comes on suddenly and sufferers will often experience muscle aches, chills, headaches, tiredness, a sore throat and a runny or stuffed nose, along with the cough. It feels worse than a heavy cold.

Colds tend to develop more gradually and are less severe, although they do still make you feel unwell. Along with a cough, there may be sneezing and a sore throat and runny nose. Fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches are rare.

A coronavirus cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or “episodes” in 24 hours.

If you usually have a cough because of a long-standing medical condition like COPD, it may be worse than usual.

You should get tested for coronavirus if you develop a new, continuous cough.

What does loss or change to smell or taste mean?

These are key symptoms of coronavirus and mean you should get a test.

It could still be that you have a simple cold. But you need to check, even if you don’t feel unwell, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

Does sneezing mean I’ve got coronavirus?

Sneezing is not a classic symptom of coronavirus, and unless you also have a fever, cough or loss of smell and taste, you do not need a test, according to the NHS.

Sneeze droplets can spread infections though, so catch them in a tissue, put it in the bin and then wash your hands.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Use a face covering when social distancing is not possible
  • Try to keep your distance from those not in your household

MORE:

How about a runny or blocked nose or a headache?

Currently, the NHS says a runny nose or a headache is not a reason to get tested for Covid.

But research suggests some people who test positive for Covid do have these symptoms.

US guidelines say people with the following symptoms may have Covid:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

What if I am very unwell?

People with coronavirus have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some will have none at all, but can still be infectious.

Symptoms may appear up to two weeks after exposure to coronavirus, but usually around day five.

Feeling breathless can be a sign of a more serious coronavirus infection.

If you are having trouble breathing, contact your doctor online or over the phone, or dial 112 to request for an ambulance.

And the NHS advises:

  • Call 112 if you’re worried about a baby or child under five
  • If your child seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there’s something seriously wrong, call 112
  • Do not delay getting help if you’re worried. Trust your instincts

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