General Health

DISEASES WITH SIMILAR SYMPTOMS TO COVID 19: Learn this Before Self Isolation

Corona Virus (Covid-19)has undoubtedly changed the course of the world since it’s advent in late 2019. The infectious respiratory illness remains an unsolved puzzle and a thorn in the flesh of the human population. Since there is currently no approved cure or vaccine for Covid-19, containing the virus, which is hinged on quarantine and self-isolation measures has been the best and only response to the pandemic so far. The crucial role of self-isolation with regard to containing coronavirus cases cannot be overemphasized.

Self-Isolation like the name implies means to avoid all human contact by staying indoors upon having suspicious symptoms of a highly infectious disease or after making contact with a confirmed patient of the disease. People with suspected coronavirus symptoms, those waiting for test results, and those who might have had direct contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient are all highly advised to self-isolate until a test confirms the presence or absence of the virus.

This is necessary to avoid the further spread of the disease. To self-isolate, you have to avoid making contact with everyone including those you have a close relationship with, either your family members, relatives, or loved ones. It might come across as a tough control measure, but it is the best thing you can do for yourself, loved ones, and the world at large.

But amidst the coronavirus scare, it is easy to mistake another disease for COVID19 because of symptom similarities. The infectious disease mimics the symptoms of several other diseases and without careful observation, one is bound to self-isolate for the wrong reasons.

Although only a coronavirus test can confirm if you have the disease or not, you might have to self-isolate before getting a test done or while waiting for the results. In order not to make the wrong assumptions, it is essential to know the differences between Covid19 symptoms and those of other diseases that share similar characteristics with the deadly virus. In light of this, here are some diseases with similar symptoms to Covid19 that you should take note of.



The typical symptoms of the novel coronavirus include fever, fatigue, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms of the virus include loss of smell and taste, body aches, sore throat, headache, nausea and vomiting, runny nose, diarrhea, and chills. These symptoms can also manifest in several other diseases and it may be difficult to tell them apart.

However, the key difference between COVID-19 symptoms and symptoms of other diseases is shortness of breath. Shortness of breath is peculiar to Covid-19 and it usually manifests prior to the development of pneumonia. Also, upper respiratory symptoms like runny nose and sinus congestion are rare in Covid-19 infections. Below are some diseases that can easily be mistaken for coronavirus.


Also Read: How To Lose Weight During Covid19 Quarantine


One disease that bears striking similarities with the coronavirus is the flu, and it is often mistaken for the latter. Covid-19 and the flu both cause respiratory illness with similar symptoms. However, they have some peculiar differences.

The incubation period, that is the time range between initial infection and symptom manifestation varies between the two. For Covid-19, the incubation period is an average of 2-14 days, while the estimated median incubation period is 4 to 5 days. Compared to Covid-19, the incubation period for the flu is shorter and can span between 1-4 days. The flu also presents symptoms like:

  • fever
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • headache
  • runny or congested nose
  • sore throat
  • body aches and pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

Some people with flu, especially older adults and those with weak immune systems might not develop fever, while most Covid-19 patients do present feverish symptoms.

The two respiratory illnesses also manifest in different ways. Covid-19 symptoms usually start off as mild and gradually worsens with time, whereas flu symptoms usually appear suddenly. They also differ in severity. While 20% of COVID 19 cases are critical, severe, and even fatal, only about  1% of flu patients are hospitalized. Most uncomplicated cases of the flu usually resolve within 3-7 days. In some cases, cough and fatigue may still be present for about two weeks or longer.


With regard to contagiousness, Covid-19 is highly contagious but the period taken for an infected person to infect another is poorly understood. Experts currently believe that the rate of transmission is higher when people are showing symptoms. It is also believed that asymptomatic people can be contagious, but there is currently no concrete evidence to support this. However, this might change as more research unfolds.

Flu on the other hand is known to be highly contagious. An infected person can transmit the virus to another person in as little as a day before symptoms appear and they can continue to transmit the virus 5-7 days after falling ill.

Finally, the compared coronavirus that has no vaccine, flu can be easily prevented with the Influenza vaccine or flu shot.



This is another respiratory illness that has similar symptoms with coronavirus and the flu. However, the symptoms are generally mild compared to the other two. Cold symptoms can include the following:

  • Runny nose/nose congestion
  • Mild cough
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches/pains
  • Fatigue

While these symptoms may also be present in Covid-19 infections, the symptoms in cold are mild at best and can be counteracted with over-the-counter medications. The recuperation period is also shorter than that of Covid-19; cold symptoms often last for an average of 7-10 days while the Covid-19 recovery period is an average of 2-6 weeks according to the WHO. People with mild symptoms can recuperate within two weeks, while those with severe and critical symptoms can take about 3 to 6 weeks to recover.

Also, the majority of cold symptoms are not caused by the cold virus itself but are often a side effect of the body’s immune response against the infection. Most cold viruses can be eliminated by the body’s immune system even without the use of medication. But this is obviously not the case with Covid-19.


Also Read: Covid19 Unemployment Statistics


A key difference between coronavirus and allergy symptoms is how they manifest. While coronavirus symptoms develop gradually, allergies present chronic symptoms that may come and go for weeks, months, or years. Also, allergies rarely cause cough, fever, or body aches, which are notable symptoms of Covid-19. The cough may only present when there is excessive nasal drainage. Allergies may also cause wheezing (especially in asthma patients). This can be mistaken for coronavirus breathing problems.

Seasonal allergy or allergic rhinitis is often caused by pollen from plants. Allergies are common during spring and are aggravated by environmental triggers like pollen, animal dander, and dust. Covid-19 symptoms on the other hand are not dependent on season, weather, location, or other environmental factors.

During allergic reactions, the body’s antibodies fight the allergen and release histamines in the process. The histamines in turn trigger symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes. Antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, eye drops, and other allergy drugs can be used to alleviate the associative symptoms.



The basic symptoms of Lyme disease resemble that of coronavirus. The disease which is seasonal and tick-borne can present symptoms like fever, malaise, and fatigue. This is a current cause of worry as we are in the nick of tick season. Untreated Lyme disease can also present shortness of breath, palpitations, arthritis, severe headache, stiff neck to mention but a few. However tick-borne diseases are rarely associated with respiratory symptoms like those presented in coronavirus infections.

The majority of COVID-19 and Lyme disease symptoms also mirror the symptoms of other diseases like the flu and cold. However, they have distinctive symptoms that tell them apart. Lyme disease for instance causes the bull’s – eye rash, which is a rash that forms around the tick bite that may gradually expand into the shape of a bull’s eye or a target.

This rash is what points to  Lyme disease during diagnosis. But the problem is, it may not appear or maybe inconspicuous when it does. However, if you have spent time in outdoor areas like woods, shady forests, or possible tick-infested areas in the recent past, then your symptoms may be Lyme-disease associated.



For better clarity, here is a symptom checker you can quickly refer to when in doubt.

Symptoms Corona Virus Flu Cold Seasonal allergies Lyme disease
Fever Common Common Rare Sometimes Common
Cough Common(often dry) Common(often dry) Mild Sometimes Rare
Fatigue Common Sometimes Sometimes Sometimes Common
Aches/pains Sometimes Common Common Rare Common
Sneezing Rare common Common Common Rare
Runny/stuffy nose Rare Sometimes Common Common Rare
Headache Sometimes Common Rare Sometimes Common
Sore throat Sometimes Sometimes Common Rare Rare
Diarrhea Rare Sometimes (in children) Rare Rare Rare

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