It is impossible to say without a test. Influenza and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, you may need to be tested to see what makes you unhappy.
Body aches, sore throats, fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches are symptoms that are shared by both.
One difference? People who suffer from the flu usually feel most ill during the first week of illness. With COVID-19, people may feel worse for the second or third week, and they may get sick for a long time.
Another difference: COVID-19 causes loss of taste or smell more often than the flu. But not everyone experiences this symptom, so it is not a reliable way to separate viruses.
There remains testing, which will become more important as the flu season rises this fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Doctors need to know the test results to determine the best treatment.
You can also be infected with both viruses at the same time, said Dr. Daniel Solomon, an infectious disease expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospitals and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Whether you get tested for one or both viruses may depend on how available the tests are and what viruses are circulating where you live, he said.
“Currently, we do not see influenza transmission in the community, so large-scale influenza testing is not yet recommended,” Solomon said.
Both influenza and coronavirus are spread by drops from the nose and mouth. Both can spread before people realize they are sick. The flu has a shorter incubation period – that is, it can take one to four days after infection to feel sick – compared to the coronavirus, which can take two to 14 days from infection to symptoms.
On average, COVID-19 is more contagious than influenza. But many people with COVID-19 do not spread the virus to anyone, while a few people spread it to many others. These “common events” are more common with COVID-19 than the flu, Solomon said.
Prevention of influenza begins with an annual influenza vaccine, taking into account the circulating strains of influenza virus. Health officials would like a record number of people to be vaccinated against the flu this year, so hospitals will not be affected by two epidemics at once.
There is no vaccine against COVID-19 yet, although several candidates are in the final stages of testing.
Precautions against COVID-19 – masks, social distancing, hand washing – also slow the spread of the flu, so health officials hope long-term vigilance could reduce the severity of this year’s flu season.
The AP answers your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Send them to FactCheck@AP.org.