Coronavirus vs. the Flu: What are the Similarities and Differences?

Coronavirus and the Flu

Named for their appearance, coronaviruses look like they are covered with pointed structures that surround them like a crown (corona) under a microscope. Common around the world, there are different varieties of coronaviruses, but the recently identified type that has caused an outbreak is called COVID-19. The symptoms associated with COVID-19 include shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, body aches, and fever. Unfortunately, symptoms can appear similar to the flu, so a laboratory test is required to confirm the diagnosis. Both the recent coronavirus and the flu are viral infections that share similar symptoms, but they originate from different families of viruses. While the flu is notoriously infectious, the new coronavirus outbreak has been dominating headlines recently, but how do these two illnesses compare?

Even though both the coronavirus COVID-19 and the flu are considered to be respiratory illnesses that can look similar to one another, they are caused by different viruses. But to know how the new coronavirus compares with the flu, you need to look at both side by side.

What are the Similarities?

• Both can result in pneumonia.
• Both can be mild or severe. In rare cases, both can be fatal.
• Both can cause fatigue, cough, fever, and body aches. Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting can occur.
• Both can spread from an infected person talking, coughing, or sneezing.
• Both can be treated by addressing the symptoms, not with antibiotics.
• Severe cases may require hospitalization.
• You can prevent both by frequently washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, avoiding contact with people who are infected and staying home when sick.

What are the Differences?

• The flu can be caused by any of the several different strains and types of influenza, while the coronavirus is caused by one virus.
• The coronavirus may spread through the airborne route, remaining in the air, even after the infected person is no longer near.
• Antiviral medications can be taken to address the symptoms of the flu, but testing is still being conducted to see if antiviral medications can address the symptoms of the coronavirus.
• A vaccine is available for the flu, but no vaccine is available at this time for the coronavirus.
• The flu infects more people worldwide than the coronavirus and has a higher death toll. However, the coronavirus situation is changing rapidly.

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, and much is still unknown, so it is vital that you stay on top of the newest updates. To keep up-to-date on the coronavirus COVID-19, click here for the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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