Is it the flu? Pneumonia? A cold? COVID-19?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oklahoma is one of many states that often report a widespread flu outbreak. However, does that mean that every time we get sick it is the flu? While we are familiar with the signs and symptoms of the flu – severe body aches, fever and a dry cough – we may not be able to tell the difference between the flu, pneumonia, a cold, or Covid-19. So when should we go to the doctor or just try fluids and rest at home? Breaking down the difference between these illnesses can help to reduce the risk of complications and hospitalization.

Symptoms of the Flu

The flu tends to hit suddenly. This can include full body aches, fever, chills, a dry cough and occasionally nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and a sore throat. Treatment of the flu includes anti-viral medication, which is most effective when given within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Those with other health conditions, like heart or lung disease, are especially susceptible to becoming severely ill from the flu. If you experience shortness of breath or trouble breathing, call your health care provider immediately or visit our Emergency Center.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is different from the flu in that it typically comes on gradually. This can include a severe cough, which causes fatigue, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Generally, a person ;with pneumonia does not experience the full-body aches characteristic of the flu. Treatment requires antibiotics and if the illness progresses, may require breathing treatments and hospitalization. If you are experiencing symptoms of pneumonia you should contact your health care provider. Need a Primary Care Physician? Click here to search our provider list.

Symptoms of a Cold

A cold will strike between one and four days after being exposed to the virus, if contracted. What starts in the nose with a burning sensation, runny nose and sneezing, may progress to overall fatigue. Usually full body aches are not associated with the common cold, unlike the flu. A person with a cold is most contagious during the initial stages and it is best to stay home and rest at this time. Symptoms typically last three to four days and there is no fever associated with a cold. The common cold can progress into a bacteria infection. At this point symptoms include coughing up dark mucus along with a deep pain in the lungs. If cold symptoms worsen after the third day, along with a fever, difficulty swallowing, an earache, if pregnant or nursing, or the newborn has symptoms, you should call your health care provider. Click here if you do not have a Primary Care Physician.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Like other viruses, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with serious symptoms that may become deadly if you have not been vaccinated. It may take a few days for someone infected with the disease to show any symptoms, which means you could be carrying and spreading the disease before you know you have it. Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, loss of taste or smell, and more. COVID-19 can be diagnosed with a laboratory test at your doctor's office, an urgent care center, or with an at-home test. If you have COVID-19, wear a mask and practice physical distancing from others. Wash your hands frequently and wipe down all surfaces around you, as droplets from your coughs or sneezes can spread the disease. Read more about the disease on our COVID-19 page. If you need help, contact our COVID-19 Call Center at (918) 574-0920. Operators are available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer your questions and connect you with a healthcare provider.