Cold and flu viruses are a part of life for most people. But the difference between a cold and a more severe pneumonia-like illness called community-acquired respiratory disease (CARD) can be difficult to identify. You might have questions about how colds differ from other respiratory illnesses, and what symptoms you should be on the lookout for as they progress. In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about colds and COVIDs in order to help you determine what’s going on with your body this season.

Cold or COVID? Here are some questions to ask that might help you decide.

The symptoms of cold and co-viral infections are similar, so it’s important to get tested if you’re experiencing any of these:

  • fever
  • cough, sore throat and congestion
  • fatigue

If your symptoms are severe enough to warrant immediate medical attention, call your doctor immediately. He or she will likely send you home with some antibiotics that can help prevent complications related to the virus. If your symptoms aren’t severe enough for them to send an ambulance out right away—and if they don’t tell you anything about what tests might be done or where they should go—call 911 instead!

How long have your symptoms lasted?

If you’ve had cold symptoms for a few days, they’re likely just a common cold. However, if you’ve had CVID symptoms for more than a week and your throat is still sore or there’s nasal discharge that won’t go away then it might be time to see a doctor.

CVID can be harder to diagnose because the symptoms are often vague and nonspecific; however, it can cause serious complications including:

  • Ear infections (otitis media)
  • Sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Otitis media with effusion (OMEE)

Are you having a cough, trouble breathing and/or a fever?

If you’re having trouble breathing and/or a fever, it could be COVID.

If you have a cough, difficulty breathing, or fever in addition to these symptoms, it’s likely that your child has cold/flu as opposed to COVID.

Do you have a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and/or sneezing?

If you’re experiencing runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and/or sneezing, this is common for people with colds.

However, if you also have a stuffy nose and nasal congestion (such as when breathing through your mouth), then this could be another sign of COVID.

If your symptoms are worse than average for your age group but not severe enough to warrant medical attention then there’s no need to worry about taking extra precautions unless they persist for more than three weeks in a row without improving initially or getting worse over time (see below).

Have you been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you should see a doctor. If the symptoms persist after several weeks, it could be a sign that your immune system is recognizing the virus.

If you haven’t been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and fatigue without coughing or sneezing (or even if there isn’t any other indication of illness), go see your doctor right away.

Is your sense of smell intact, or is it impaired?

If you can smell, then your sense of smell is intact. If not, it could be a sinus infection or COVID.

If you have a cold and are able to smell: Your nose will feel stuffy and sore in the morning after getting sick. You might also have congestion or headaches that cause pain behind one eye (if one eye is affected). You may need at least two days of medicine if symptoms persist beyond this point; however, they should clear up within 24 hours if taken correctly (it’s best to take all necessary medications as prescribed by your doctor).

If you don’t have any problems with your sense of smell but still feel like something is wrong: It could be a sinus infection or COVID!

The CDC offers some tips to help you tell the difference between cold and COVID.

The CDC offers some tips to help you tell the difference between cold and COVID.

  • CVID-19 is a new strain of the common cold, which can cause more severe symptoms than your typical run-of-the-mill ailment.
  • It’s not contagious, so if you catch it from another person or animal—like their pet cat or dog—you won’t spread it back onto them (or vice versa). You’ll just have to deal with getting sick on your own!
  • And no one has ever gotten CVID from someone who had it before them; this means there’s no risk of being exposed to something dangerous like H1N1 (swine flu) by touching surfaces contaminated with infected saliva or mucus expelled during coughing fits.”


The CDC offers some tips to help you tell the difference between cold and COVID. For example, if your symptoms last more than 48 hours, it’s probably not a cold. If they’re severe and include a fever or difficulty breathing, it could indicate something more serious like pneumonia. But if you don’t have any of those symptoms or if they come on suddenly within 24 hours of being exposed to someone with positive results for COVID-19, then there’s a good chance that person has the flu!