• Is It COVID-19, Influenza A or B, or Something Else?

    Information provided by Quest Diagnostics

    It’s flu season, but we’re also still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), influenza A or B (flu), and other respiratory infections can present with similar symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. That’s why it’s important to consider testing for each of these contagious illnesses at the same time—especially for older adults, pregnant women, and people with underlying conditions or compromised immune systems. Knowing which infection—or infections—are causing your patient’s symptoms will help you make the best treatment decisions.

    Whether caused by COVID-19, influenza, or another respiratory illness, the symptoms can be very similar1:

    • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
    • Cough
    •  Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue (tiredness)
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Muscle pain or body aches
    • Headache
    • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

    During widespread circulation of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, clinicians should consider testing patients with compatible symptoms for both viruses, according to the CDC.2 

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19. Reviewed August 31, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm 
    2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ten clinical tips on COVID-19 for healthcare providers involved in patient care. Updated September 16, 2020. Accessed October 1, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-tips-for-healthcare-providers.html


    About Sponsored Content

    The posting of sponsored information and content on this page should not be considered an AAFP endorsement or recommendation of the sponsor's products, services, policies, or procedures. The information and opinions expressed on this page are those of the paid sponsors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the AAFP. The AAFP is not responsible for the content of third-party websites linked from this page; moreover, any links on this page to third-party websites where goods or services are advertised are not endorsements or recommendations by the AAFP of the third-party sites, goods, or services.