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How to know if you have COVID-19 or the flu before getting tested

flu sneze

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - A lot of people want to know what is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 before having to get tested.

According to the CDC Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.

COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

The CDC explains the key difference is that COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. 

COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.

Today on Local News 8 at 5 p.m. and on KIDK Eyewitness News 3 at 5:30 p.m., we'll talk to a local infectious disease specialist who will explain to us in further detail how to tell the different symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu.

The CDC describes the similarities and difference between flu and COVID-19 below:


Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults



Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above.

Flu Symptoms


COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.

COVID-19 Symptoms

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Ariel Schroeder

Ariel is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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