If you’ve been feeling a bit ill lately, you may be pondering the difference between COVID-19 and a cold, flu or allergy. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s true that COVID-19 is running rampant in many parts of the United States, but that doesn’t mean other illnesses have gone away. Although it’s important to take COVID-19 seriously, it’s equally important to avoid panicking and jumping to conclusions if you do fall ill. As such, it’s important to know the difference between COVID-19 and a cold.

Upper Respiratory Issues

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, but this disease tends to focus on your lower respiratory system and leave your upper respiratory function alone. Both colds and COVID-19 can come with a dry cough and chest congestion, but a stuffy nose, sinus headache and frequent sneezing fits are far more likely to indicate a cold or allergies than a more serious coronavirus infection.

Fever

Although it’s not impossible, it’s extremely rare for the common cold or allergies to cause a fever. If your body temperature measures 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you likely have a COVID-19 infection or a case of the flu.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea and stomach upset sometimes occur with the flu, especially in children. Allergies, however, don’t cause diarrhea and neither does the common cold. COVID-19 does cause diarrhea on rare occasions but its presence more likely points to the flu than COVID-19.

Test Results

Although you can check your symptoms to determine the difference between COVID-19 and other issues, the only way to rule out COVID-19 for sure is to schedule a COVID-19 test. If you’re too ill to drive or otherwise cannot get to a testing site, there are many home care services that can provide transportation.

No one likes to visit the doctor more than they have to, but it’s important to know what you’re dealing with when you fall ill. If you suspect your illness could be COVID-19, don’t hesitate to get tested for your own health and the safety of those around you.