Flu, COVID-19, cold or allergy? Make a difference!

In the winter, during a COVID-19 pandemic, when seasonal colds and flu are common, many people wonder what are the key symptoms that can distinguish these diseases.

COVID-19, influenza and colds share a number of features and a wide range of similar or identical symptoms that make it difficult to differentiate in the early stages of the disease.

For proper treatment of any respiratory disease, it is always very important to know the true cause of the disease, which allows a timely response directed to the appropriate pathogen.

There are many different symptoms that occur in people with COVID-19. Many of them appear the same or similar in colds and seasonal flu, and less often in allergies. The most common symptoms characteristic of SARS-CoV-2 virus and influenza A and B viruses (Influenza A / Influenza B) are: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, and in some people, diarrhea and vomiting.

The main difference in symptoms is the loss of taste and smell, reported in a certain percentage of people infected with SARS-CoV-2. Of course, there is a difference in the incubation period of the viruses, the time when the symptoms of the risky contact appear, their intensity and duration.

However, due to the similarity between the symptoms of these infections, it is very difficult to distinguish, so the most accurate diagnostic tool is laboratory tests, in consultation with a doctor.

In addition, you can find the table with the most common symptoms that occur with COVID-19, flu, colds and allergies.

Muscle achesUsuallyUsuallySometimesNever
CoughUsually (dry)UsuallyUsuallySometimes
Runny or staffy noseUsuallyUsuallyUsuallyUsually
Sore throatUsuallyUsuallyUsuallyRarely
Itchy nose, eyes, mouth or inner earNeverNeverSometimesUsually
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathingUsuallyUsuallySometimesSometimes
New loss of taste or smellUsually (early – often without a runny or staffy nose)Sometimes Sometimes (especially with a stuffy nose)Sometimes
Nausea and vomitingSometimesSometimes (more common in children)NeverNever
DiarrheaSometimesSometimes (more common in children)NeverNever




New high-specific molecular multiplex Real-Time PCR test is available at Avicena Laboratory for simultaneous detection, identification and differentiation between the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and seasonal influenza.

Detection of the cause of the respiratory infection from only one sample (throat and nose swab):

– SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

– Influenza A and B virus 

– Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Samples for this are being taken only in Avicena Laboratory in Taftalidze every working day and Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and in the laboratory in Tetovo from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m from Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m on Saturday. Please schedule an appointment on: ?071/278-529, ?078/218-731, ?071/269-623 и?072/319-850.

Avicena Laboratory has a wide range of microbiological and molecular tests for respiratory infections.

You can see the full menu of tests for COVID-19 at the following link.