How to differentiate Covid from a cold?

How to differentiate Covid from a cold?
How to differentiate Covid from a cold?

The cold period starting to come out the tip of his nose, viruses also arrive at the end of our nose! In the context of an epidemic in coronavirus, it is possible to confuse an infection with Covid-19 and a simple common cold. So how do you tell the difference between covid and the common cold?

Differentiating Covid from a Cold: Common Symptoms

The common cold, also called rhinopharyngite is a viral infection who touches the nasal cavity and the pharynx. Covid, also called coronavirus infection, is also a viral infection affecting the nasal cavity, but also other organs (lungs, liver, kidney, nervous system, etc.).

The common cold has symptoms in common with those caused by coronaviruses:

  • A fatigue unusual;
  • From chills;
  • From headache ;
  • From sneezing;
  • From aches, muscle aches ;
  • a clear and profuse nasal discharge;
  • From cough

However, some cold symptoms are specific to it and are not common with the coronavirus (in the current state of knowledge on Covid-19):

  • The itching (nose, eyes, mouth)
  • the stuffy nose
  • The Red eyes and that tearful

Likewise, some symptoms may be present in SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus disease, but will not be in a common cold:

  • The shortness of breath and a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • The sudden loss of smell (without having a stuffy nose), a total disappearance of taste
  • The diarrhea ;
  • The fever (more important with the Covid than with the common cold).

If in doubt, isolate yourself without delay by keeping your distance from other people. Contact your doctor by phone, or on 09 72 72 99 09 (free service + price of the call, open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) to be referred to a voluntary general practitioner.

What factors favor the onset of a cold?

The common cold has more than risk of appearing in the presence of the following factors:

  • The life in community, promoting the transmission of viruses
  • The decrease in the mobility of the cilia of the nasal mucosa allowing viruses to evacuate from the nasal cavities in the secretions. This decrease can be caused by:
    • the smoking ;
    • The pollution ;
    • The dryness of the ambient air or nasal mucosa.
  • The fatigue and stress, resulting in a weakened immune system;
  • The presence of a chronic disease also affecting the immune system;
  • The iron deficiency ;
  • The presence of a allergic ground;
  • the gastroesophageal reflux, causing inflammation of the pharynx.

Tips to limit the risk of developing a cold

  • Do nose washes with physiological saline, seawater spray or inhalations. This helps to clean the nasal mucous membranes and moisten them.
  • Dress warmly;
  • Air your interior (even in winter) ;
  • Humidify the ambient air to improve the resistance of the nasal mucosa;
  • Play sports to keep in good physical shape;
  • We often forget them, but get enough sleep and eat balanced (fruits, vegetables, proteins…) are also important elements having an impact on our resistance to viruses.

There are also food supplements (self-medication) which would strengthen the natural defenses:

  • The vitamin complexes, based on vitamin C;
  • The probiotics;
  • The herbal medicine (pelargonium, echinacea, thyme, Siberian ginseng);
  • L’aromatherapy (pepper mint) ;
  • L’oligothérapie (manganese, copper and sulfur) etc,…

Their traditional use, not validated by clinical studies, is nevertheless the subject of consensus.

To know ! Some food supplements have contraindications, and some can have interactions with each other, and with drugs, so it is imperative to report any intake of food supplement to your doctor or pharmacist.

Dina H., PhD in Pharmacy


– COLD (RHINITIS). Accessed October 13, 2021.
– Adult nasopharyngitis: causes and symptoms. Accessed October 13, 2021.
– Covid-19: recognize the disease and its symptoms, adopt the right actions. Accessed October 13, 2021.

Dina H

Science journalist,
Specialist in medical information and health innovation.
Passionate about the field of health and well-being, sport and nutrition.
Write reliable scientific content with verified sources in accordance with our HIC charter.

For Latest Updates Follow us on Google News

PREV You are sick ? Cough on the smartphone, this app will tell you what you have
NEXT The number of cases of bronchiolitis worries in Hauts-de-France