Strep, Flu, and COVID19 : How to Tell the Difference

Strep, Flu, and COVID19 : How to Tell the Difference

Strep, Flu, and COVID19 : How to Tell the Difference

It can be difficult to tell the difference between strep throat, the flu, and COVID-19. They all have similar symptoms and can be quite serious if not treated properly. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these three illnesses so that you can get the treatment you need quickly and efficiently in order to stay safe and healthy!

Strep Throat

Most people are familiar with the common cold, but strep throat is a less well-known illness that can be just as unpleasant.  It is the most common cause of sore throats in children and adults alike. Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection, and it is characterized by symptoms like a sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. The good news is that strep throat can be treated with antibiotics. However, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, as untreated strep throat can lead to serious complications like rheumatic fever. In addition, strep throat is highly contagious, so it is important to practice good hygiene and avoid close contact with people who are sick. With prompt treatment and some care, however, strep throat can be resolved without any lasting problems.

The Flu

The flu is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, coughing, and headache. The flu is most commonly spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as droplets from a sneeze or cough. People with the flu are typically contagious for up to 7 days after becoming ill. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and includes rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers. While most people recover from the flu without complications, some people are at increased risk for serious complications, such as pneumonia. Each year, the flu results in millions of doctor visits, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths. Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and its complications.


There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and there is no vaccine available to prevent the disease. However, the CDC recommends that people take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, such as washing their hands often and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other less common symptoms include loss of smell or taste, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, and nausea or vomiting. In some cases, people with COVID-19 may also experience gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. In severe cases, the virus can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal. 

The Similarities & Differences

  • The main symptom of strep throat is a severe sore throat that comes on suddenly. Other symptoms include fever & headache.
  • The flu typically includes all of these symptoms as well as body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and sometimes diarrhea or constipation. 
  • COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu but can also include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • The main difference between the flu and COVID-19 is the onset of symptoms. While both can go days without showing symptoms, once the symptoms of the flu start coming on, they’re usually in full effect within hours. The symptoms of COVID-19 are more gradual over the course of a few days.

If you think you or your child may have strep throat, it is important to see a doctor right away. They will likely prescribe antibiotics, which are the only way to treat strep throat. The flu can sometimes be treated with antiviral medications, but there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. If you think you may have COVID-19, it is important to seek medical attention immediately as it can be a very serious illness. Stay healthy and safe this winter season! If you are unsure of whether you have strep throat, the flu, or COVID-19, be sure to see a doctor so that you can get the proper treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment is key for all three of these illnesses. A-Z Primary clinic offers tests for strep, flu, and COVID-19. For more information visit our website

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