COVID-19 and Flu Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore and Why Testing is Still Important


The COVID-19 pandemic put keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy at the top of everyone’s mind. Although the spread is no longer reaching catastrophic levels thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, the virus can’t be ignored. As the weather cools down, Virginia is currently experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases that most experts believe will continue into the fall and winter months.

So now is a great time to re-discuss some key COVID-19 symptoms and talk about the importance of getting tested. With flu season also just around the corner, knowing how to tell these two illnesses apart is essential to keeping you and your family safe.

COVID-19 and Flu Symptoms to Watch For

People with COVID-19 can experience a variety of different symptoms. In fact, two people infected in the same household or family at the same time can have entirely different symptoms. A few of the most common COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

COVID-19 is unique because it can cause issues with your taste and smell. Many people with COVID-19 report not being able to smell foods or having their sense of taste change. Foods may taste “off” or taste like nothing at all. COVID-19 is also more likely to lead to complications like blood clots and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

Most people with COVID-19 experience symptoms for between 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe throughout this time. COVID-19 can also lead to “long COVID” symptoms that persist for weeks or months after the initial infection.

The flu also lasts for a few days to two weeks and typically resolves on its own with rest and supportive care. Nausea and diarrhea are more likely with the flu and complications like bacterial infections are also more common.

How to Tell COVID-19 Apart From the Flu?

With both COVID-19 and the annual flu going around, it’s difficult to tell the two apart. Despite having very similar symptoms, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses.

The flu is caused by a strain of influenza virus. The specific strain varies from year to year—which is why you need to get an updated flu shot each year. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The latter spreads easier than the flu, making large outbreaks more likely. COVID-19 patients are also contagious for a longer period, meaning they are more likely to spread the infection to others. Both viruses spread when a healthy person comes in contact with bodily fluids like saliva or snot from a sick person.

Since COVID-19 and the flu share so many symptoms, the only way to accurately tell them apart is with testing. At-home tests are a convenient way to check for COVID-19 without going to the doctor. But if you’re feeling unwell, especially during flu season, a healthcare provider can administer a more accurate test that checks for both COVID-19 and the flu.

Knowing which virus you have helps you get treatment faster. This is particularly important for both COVID and the flu since getting treated early helps prevent more severe symptoms and serious complications.

Should I Get Tested for COVID-19?

The short answer is, yes, you should still get tested for COVID-19 if you have the symptoms discussed above. Outbreaks in Virginia are currently clustered around schools and nursing homes where lots of people being close together makes spreading the virus easier. A new variant is also making the rounds, so those with an outdated vaccination or who previously had COVID-19 might not be safe from getting sick again.

Even if you’re not feeling sick, you should consider getting tested if you’ve been exposed to someone else who is. Doing so within one or two days helps you make the best decision for your health and helps decrease your chances of spreading the virus to someone else.

Visiting a healthcare provider for testing is convenient and urgent care is a great choice. Keep yourself and the community safe and give yourself peace of mind by getting tested.

Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help

If you’re feeling sick or have been in contact with someone who is, Velocity Urgent Care has your back. All of our locations offer no- or low-cost testing services for both COVID-19 and the flu.

Our providers are also ready to treat any symptoms you’re experiencing. Whether you have a cough, fever, headache, or nausea, we’ll make a diagnosis and offer the appropriate care to help you feel better.

When you need testing or care, just walk in to any of our convenient locations or make an appointment with our online registration portal to skip the waiting room and arrive when it’s your turn to be seen. We also offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.

We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure each of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or occupational health services.

Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible.

All our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.

To learn more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.