Is COVID similar to the flu?

COVID-19 shares a lot of similarities with the flu. From transmission to the symptoms, it can be hard to differentiate the two this flu season. The biggest concern for flu season is the resources available at hospitals. Healthcare professionals are focused on COVID cases, and understanding the basics of both viruses can help prevent the spread. AFC Urgent Care Bedford is here to provide you with the information you will need to keep your loved ones safe.


Both the COVID-19 and flu virus are respiratory diseases. They are spread through droplets from someone’s nose or mouth that are inhaled by another close by. Sneezing or coughing without covering your mouth and standing too close to someone who is sick are common ways to catch them. The best way to stay safe from the flu is by getting a flu shot. Since there is currently no vaccine for COVID, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth is one way to keep from catching the virus. Maintaining a distance of 6 feet and frequently washing hands are additional ways to stay safe from both viruses.


Symptoms of COVID and the flu are incredibly similar. It is essential to pay attention to the severity of either illness, as some cases can become severe and require hospitalization. Symptoms of both diseases can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Many cases of COVID are asymptomatic, meaning they do not show symptoms. The only way to know if you have COVID for sure is by getting tested. AFC Urgent Care Bedford offers drive-thru rapid COVID testing. Avoid close contact with others if you have been exposed to either illness. While both viruses share many symptoms, there are key differences between them. Recognizing these differences can help keep everyone safe and prevent others from getting sick.


The most significant differences in the illnesses have to do with the symptoms and how quickly they appear. While you do not have to show symptoms to have both diseases, COVID has a higher amount of asymptomatic cases. Symptoms for the flu show up all at once, and typically, one to three days after exposure. With COVID, symptoms usually begin four to five days after exposure and will gradually worsen over time. Loss of taste or smell is a symptom that is only associated with COVID, so if you experience a loss in either of these senses, you likely have COVID-19. Lastly, a cough that is associated with COVID is typically a dry, “smokers” cough. With the flu, it is a “wet” cough that produces phlegm. While there are OTC medications that may help with symptoms, there is no cure for either illness. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest are two ways to help with the recovery.