What are the symptoms of coronavirus – how to distinguish them from flu?
Months after its appearance, COVID-19 is still relatively unknown. It has spread across the globe and the World Health Organization announced coronavirus disease to be a pandemic. Numerous recommendations and preventive measures circulate on the Web explaining how to protect yourself from coronavirus and reduce the risks of getting infected. We have also informed you for the most important things that you need to know.
However, there is still an important subject and we want to focus your attention on what exactly are the symptoms of coronavirus and how to distinguish them from those of the flu? In addition, we shall also pay attention to the incubation period, people at risk and other important topics.
What is coronavirus and what is its incubation period?
Coronaviruses represent a very large family of viruses that can be pathogenic in humans as well as in animals. As far as humans are concerned, scientists know that many types of coronavirus can cause respiratory infections that range from a simple cold to more serious conditions such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The latest coronavirus that has been discovered is the one responsible for the current pandemic. It appeared for the first time in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and bears the name COVID-19. However, many people mistakenly associate it with the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) – a much less contagious but more deadly infection that first appeared in 2003. Since then, no cases have been reported. From a virological point of view, COVID-19 is very close to SARS and that is why it has been classified in the same species of coronavirus.
The incubation period is the time between contamination and the appearance of symptoms of the coronavirus. Doctors estimate that the length of time for COVID-19 incubation is 1-14 days. Most often, the first signs appear around the fifth day. However, WHO notes that this is a subject to be updated when new data become available.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
As you may have already heard, the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to those of seasonal flu. The only way to determine if you have COVID-19 is to do a blood test in a laboratory. However, there are other factors which we will mention below. So, the most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue, and sputum. In some cases, nasal congestion and a runny nose have been observed.
Doctors also noted that one in five infected people suffered from shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, and chills. Nausea and vomiting were rare signs in only 5% of the cases observed and for diarrhea – 3.7%.
In the most severe cases, patients with coronavirus have complications such as high fever, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and kidney failure. These severe coronavirus symptoms affect the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.
But can you be infected with coronavirus without any signs or symptoms? Yes, some people infected with COVID-19 do not develop symptoms of the coronavirus and feel good. The World Health Organization also explains that this phenomenon seems relatively rare and that the risk of contracting the infection when in contact with an individual without signs, is very low.
However, it is important to note that a large number of infected people have mild symptoms (such as a mild cough) but do not feel sick. This is particularly true for the early stages of infection. WHO continues to review new data and will continue to update the results.
How to distinguish the symptoms of coronavirus from those of influenza?
As we already said, the symptoms of coronavirus and those of seasonal flu are similar and a specific laboratory test will be necessary to confirm a possible infection with COVID-19. The first signs of it are a runny nose, a dry cough, muscle aches and tiredness – symptoms reminiscent of flu. So how do you tell the difference when you have two simultaneous epidemics?
In addition, COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu, has more forms and severe complications (acute respiratory distress, kidney failure and even multi-visceral failure). The incubation period of the coronavirus lasts longer than that of the flu -14 days and 3 to 6 days respectively. Even the way of transmission of the two diseases is the same – by air, saliva, close contact and contaminated surfaces. You need to inform yourself about the lifespan of coronavirus on different surfaces.
COVID-19 contamination largely depends on the area where you live. If the latter is one of the regions affected by the pandemic and especially if you have had contact with an infected person, the risk of a possible infection increases. The most important thing is to stay calm and not fall into psychosis!
If symptoms suggestive of a respiratory infection, call your doctor, isolate yourself and do not go to your general practitioner or to the emergency room in order to avoid spreading the virus. Many counties have hot phone lines where specialists will guide you through the steps to follow.
Which groups are at risk?
As mentioned above, the groups at risk of developing serious complications caused by COVID-19 infection include people over the age of 70 (even those between 50-70 should be monitored) and those suffering from chronic diseases like kidney problems, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory pathology, immunosuppression, obesity and so on.
How effective are antibiotics against the coronavirus and is there a specific treatment?
The World Health Organization specifies that antibiotics do not work against COVID-19 and that they should not be used as a method of prevention and treatment against coronavirus. They are effective in the fight against bacterial infections and if necessary, a doctor will prescribe them.
In terms of effective treatments and therapies for the COVID-19, there is currently no evidence that certain drugs and remedies can prevent or cure the coronavirus. The World Health Organization advises against taking antibiotics and other drugs for self-medication.