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Cold, flu, allergies, or COVID-19: how to tell the difference

October 5, 2020 • read

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Cold, flu, allergies, or COVID-19: how to tell the difference

With COVID-19 hitting at both the end of cold and flu season and the start of allergy season, it can be difficult to know what your symptoms are telling you. While there’s a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19, there are key symptoms to check for, so let’s talk about which symptoms you should look out for and which ones indicate a cold, the flu, or allergies. 

Symptoms of the flu:

The flu is the illness that’s most commonly confused with coronavirus. Symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Stuffy/runny nose (less commonly)
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches

Symptoms of COVID-19:

While coronavirus symptoms are close to those of a flu, you often don’t see the runny/stuffy nose that you’d see with the flu or a cold. Additionally COVID-19 often presents with shortness of breath, which is rare in the flu. Some of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Talk to a doctor about COVID-19 online. Register now.

Symptoms of a cold or allergies also include:

A cold or seasonal allergies will have different symptoms than coronavirus. Symptoms that will tell you it’s likely a cold or allergies, and not a case of COVID-19 include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing 

Our CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Brett Belchetz, joined Breakfast Television Toronto to talk about the differences between these illnesses that you should look out for. Check out the video below to see what he had to say.


While the above are good guidelines, it bears repeating that symptoms and risks may vary from person to person, so you should always check with a doctor if you’re concerned. If you prefer not to travel to a doctor’s office or waiting room at this time, our doctors are online 24/7 through your phone or computer to discuss your symptoms and help you determine if you require medical attention. 

Talk to a doctor about COVID-19 online.

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