SURVIVING FLU SEASON: Coronavirus vs. The Flu

Since the coronavirus has made its appearance earlier this year, it has constantly been compared to the flu. Although, similar in that they are both contagious respiratory illnesses affecting your lungs and breathing, they are caused by different viruses affecting people in various ways.



  • Both illnesses can cause fever, cough, body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea- especially in children.
  • Both can result in pneumonia.
  • Both flu and COVID-19 can be mild or severe, or even fatal in rare cases.

How It Spreads

  • Both the flu and COVID-19 spread in similar ways. Droplets or smaller virus particles from a sick person can transmit the virus to people nearby. The particles linger in the air, and another person can inhale them and become infected.
  • People can touch a surface with viruses on it, and then transfer the germs to themselves by touching their face- eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  • People infected with the coronavirus or the flu may not realize they are sick for several days, and can unknowingly spread the disease to others before they even feel sick.


  • Neither the flu nor COVID-19 is treatable with antibiotics because it is a viral infection not a bacterial.
  • Both are treated by addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever. Severe cases may require hospitalization and very ill patients may need a ventilator which is a machine that helps them breathe.
  • Antiviral medications may shorten the duration of both illnesses.


The risk of infection can be reduced by wearing a mask, frequent and thorough hand washing, coughing into the crook of your elbow, staying home when sick and limiting contact with people who are infected. Social distancing limits the spread of COVID-19 in communities.



COVID-19: Caused by the 2019 coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2.

Flu:  Caused by several different types and strains of influenza viruses circulating each year.


COVID-19: Many people infected with the coronavirus do not have symptoms, but they can still transmit the coronavirus to other people. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 can sometimes cause a person to suddenly lose their sense of smell or taste.

Flu: Flu does not typically affect a person’s sense of smell or taste.


COVID-19: Currently, effective treatments are only available through an IV in the hospital.

Flu: Oral antiviral medications can address symptoms and sometimes shorten the duration of the illness which can be prescribed by your physician.


COVID-19: No vaccine is available at this time..

Flu: A vaccine is available and can reduce the severity or duration of the flu.


COVID-19: Complications including long-term damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain and other organs is possible after a severe case.

Flu: Complications can include inflammation of the heart, brain or muscles, and multi-organ failure. Secondary bacterial infections sometimes occur following an influenza infection.

Because the coronavirus and the flu have so many similarities it can be hard to diagnose your illness once you begin to show symptoms.  It is always in your best interest to contact your physician for further medical advice.

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