Allergies? Common Cold? Flu? Or COVID-19?: Symptoms and FAQs


At a time when the deadly COVID-19 virus is at its peak, one may find difficulty differentiating from what you may be suffering from because of its symptoms that are similar to common cold & cough, fever, allergies and flu. Itching eyes and running nose can also mean that you have fever or novel coronavirus. So how do you differentiate between the symptoms of COVID-19 to that of fever, flu, cold and cough? This article will give you a better understanding of this.


Difference Between Common Cold And COVID-19

Common cold is a viral infection that involves symptoms like running nose, fatigue, body ache and sneezing. COVID-19 is a deadly virus that affects the lungs and can be life-threatening. It involves symptoms like difficulty breathing, pressure/ pain in the chest, difficulty walking, lips and face turning bluish. 

Difference Between Flu And COVID-19

Flu, also known as Influenza virus is a viral infection that affects both the upper and lower respiratory system. It is contagious and can spread from person to person. Symptoms include cough, body ache, severe headache and fatigue. COVID-19 possesses similar symptoms, just that it can include shortness of breath. Treating the person in isolation can help the person recover. 

How Is Flu And Common Cold Treated From COVID-19?

Although the symptoms of flu and common cold & cough are similar, the way each of these infections is treated differs. Here is what you need to know the procedure of treatment for flu, common cold and cough including COVID. 

1. Treatment For Flu

A doctor will advise that you take good rest and prescribe a lot of fluids such as coconut water, herbal tea, fresh juice, soups etc to treat the flu. If you are suffering from severe flu, then antiviral medications such as peramivir (Rapivab), oseltamivir (Tamiflu) etc will be prescribed.

2. Treatment For Common Cold & Cough

A doctor will recommend that you consume a lot of fluids such as coconut water, pepper-turmeric milk and green tea to keep yourself hydrated. You will also be prescribed over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol) etc that will fight the cold. 

3. Treatment For COVID-19

A doctor will recommend that you take good rest and consume plenty of fluids. You will have to stay in a separate room from other family members and use a dedicated bathroom. Also, you need to clean your room frequently with disinfectant and do not touch any surface. However, these precautions are for those taking self-care at home as advised by a medical practitioner. If you have severe symptoms, then you will have to undergo treatment in a hospital. 

How To Know If You Have Flu, Cold or COVID? 

Since most symptoms of cold, flu and certain allergies are similar to COVID, there are certain symptoms that clearly indicate that you may have any of the below-listed infections.

Infection Mild Symptoms Severe Symptoms
Common Cold & Cough 
  • Sore throat
  • slight  chest discomfort
  • Cough
  • Clogged nose
  • Sneezing 
  • Body pain
  • Fatigue
Flu (Influenza Virus)
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Slight fever chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Nausea
  • Running nose
  • Clogged nose
  • Diarrhoea
Allergies (Hay Fever)
  • Itching eyes, skin and mouth
  • Sneezing
  • Running Nose
  • Clogged nose
  • Wheezing 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Dry Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Mild cough
  • Severe headache
  • No sense of taste and smell
  • High Fever with chills
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Running nose
  • Pneumonia & difficulty in breathing
  • Clogged nose
  • Alterned sensorium / loss of consciuosness due to reduced blood oxygen levels


NOTE: Since almost all symptoms of the above-listed infections appear similar, it is advised that you consult a doctor immediately if you have a fever, difficulty breathing and cough. 

Home Remedies

Initially, you may not be sure of whether or not you may have COVID or just flu. But taking simple steps to prevent it could be the first thought of action. Here are some home remedies to beat cold, cough, flu and also COVID. 

1. Cold & Cough Home Remedies

Make sure you add the following in foods to your everyday diet to treat and prevent common cold and cough. 

  • Drink plenty of coconut water
  • Add garlic to your cooking
  • Ginger tea
  • Hot pepper veg or non-veg soup
  • Honey with lukewarm water

2. Flu Home Remedies

Influenza virus known as flu attacks the respiratory system of people with weaker immunity levels. It can be fatal if it is left untreated. The best way to get rid of the flu is to take good rest and rely on fluids so that your body enables itself to fight the virus. Here are some foods to get rid of the flu. 

  • Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli
  • Yoghurt
  • Vitamin C Fruits: Orange, Lemon, Papaya, Kiwi, Pineapple and Watermelon
  • Hot Pepper Soup
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Oatmeal

3. Allergies (Hay Fever) Home Remedies

Hay fever often referred to as an allergy causes watery eyes, itchiness on skin, sneezing and fever is often diagnosed by skin testing and nasal passage tests. The symptoms could appear similar to that of COVID-19 and here are some foods that can beat hay fever. 

  • Onions
  • Apple
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Oily fish: Tuna & Mackerel
  • Tomatoes

4. COVID-19 Home Remedies

Coronavirus is a contagious infection that affects the lungs causing fever, shortness of breath, cold, cough etc. However, if you are diagnosed with it in the initial stages, a doctor will recommend home self-care. Using a single room, individual bathroom and disinfecting the room frequently is what you will have to do. However, here are some immunity-boosting foods that you need to consume if you have COVID. 

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Eggs
  • Ashwagandha
  • Tulsi
  • Neem
  • Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
  • Nilavembu Kashayam (Ayurvedic tonic that cures viral fever, infections and a natural immunity booster). 


Flu, hay fever, cold & cough have similar symptoms to that of COVID, but remember that shortness of breath and high fever may be symptoms indicative of have high chances of you suffering from COVID. It is recommended that you consult a doctor at the earliest. Here are some frequently asked questions that will give you an insight into COVID symptoms.

1. Is running nose a symptom of COVID?

YES, it is a severe symptom of COVID, but most people do not develop it initially. COVID begins with fever, dry cough and not with a running nose. 

2. Can antibiotics treat COVID?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotics should not be used in the treatment or prevention of COVID. 

3. What can I do If I feel depressed during COVID?

Irritation of certain thoughts and anxiety can make you feel depressed. Practice breathing exercise every time a negative thought accompanies you. Think of something that makes you calm and which slows down your mind. One way to beat anger is simply counting 1 to 10 backwards. 

4. Can drinking alcohol prevent COVID?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol consumption cannot prevent you from getting COVID. It is a myth. 

5. Can you get COVID if you smoke tobacco? 

YES, smoking is a huge risk factor towards getting  COVID. Since COVID affects the lungs, smokers can come into contact with the virus because of weak lungs. 

Symptoms of flu, hay fever, cold and cough are similar to the deadly COVID virus. What you need to be aware of is sudden shortness of breath, high fever and mild cold and cough. If you are facing any of the following symptoms, then make it a point to get to the nearest hospital. Live safe, wear a mask, maintain social distance and frequently Wash your hands. Remain physically active with a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily for adults and 60 minutes for children and maintain optimal levels of immunity.


  1. Good article for someone to differentiate the symptoms between common flu/cough/cold & COVID-19. Thanks a lot.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.