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Is it a slight fever? Runny nose, sore throat … Difference between cold and new coronavirus infection, influenza

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With the spread of the new coronavirus infection, we will continue to manage our physical condition. While avoiding contact with people, even a slight change in physical condition may be a cause for concern in the face of the news that tells the number of infected people and the condition of patients that flow every day. In particular, discomfort in the throat, low-grade fever, fever, cough and malaise are typical symptoms of a cold and are also said to be part of the symptoms of the new coronavirus infection. It stirs the feeling.

Here, we will introduce the differences between colds and influenza with similar initial symptoms such as low-grade fever and the new coronavirus infection, and prevention of infection.

Updated November 5, 2021

Supervision: Takeshi Nagatake (Director of Sakuramichi Clinic)

How do you distinguish between a common cold, a new coronavirus infection, and the flu?

Is it difficult to distinguish initial symptoms such as low-grade fever (fever)?

The initial symptoms of a new coronavirus infection are similar to colds and flu, such as fever including low-grade fever, coughing, and malaise, and are difficult to distinguish at the beginning.
However, there is a difference in the duration of symptoms, and colds and influenza generally improve after peaking on the 3rd to 4th day after the onset. In contrast, coronavirus infections are longer and last for about 7 days. There is also a difference in the degree of severity, and in the case of a new coronavirus infection, about 80% of patients naturally improve, while the remaining 20% ​​are hospitalized with pneumonia. Furthermore, it is said that some of them become severe and require intensive care. Colds and flu, on the other hand, rarely cause pneumonia and lead to hospitalization. In addition, although the causal relationship with the new coronavirus infection is unknown due to the lack of epidemiological studies at this time, it has become clear that the acute phase symptoms are prolonged (sequelae appear) in some people.

To clarify whether or not you have a new coronavirus infection, you need to undergo a pathogen diagnosis such as a PCR test at a medical institution. Those who are positive with this will be “infected persons (confirmed patients)” of the new coronavirus infection. Also, during the period when the virus may be transmitted (from 2 days before the onset), those who touch the patient without taking necessary infection prevention measures or who have been in contact for a long time at a short distance are “close contacts”, that is, It is considered to be “a person who is likely to be infected with the new coronavirus” and is subject to inspection.
Below is a table of the differences between common colds, new coronavirus infections, and influenza.

Differences between common colds and new coronavirus infections and influenza


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Symptoms Normal cold COVID-19 infection influenza
Infectious Not very strong
(splash or contact infection)
Very strong
(splash or contact infection)
(splash or contact infection)
Onset slowly Slow or rapid deterioration Sudden
Disease period 7-10 days Around 7 to 10 days * 1 About 1 week
Fever Even if it is up to about 38 ℃
(may be a slight fever)
Fever above 37.5 ° C often lasts for 4 days or more High fever 38 ℃ ~ 40 ℃
headache light In some cases strong
Strong sense of smell and taste rare In some cases rare
General pain No-light In some cases Common (strong)
Feeling sluggish and weak light In some cases Common (strong)
Runny nose / stuffy nose Common rare In some cases
cough light Common
(many dry coughs that continue uninterrupted)
Common (strong)
shortness of breath rare If you have pneumonia, you may have difficulty breathing or breathing. rare

* 1 In severe cases, it may reach several weeks. In addition, it is becoming clear that some people have prolonged symptoms even after treatment or medical treatment is completed.

How to prevent infection with the new coronavirus

How is the new coronavirus infected? What is the preventive method?

Everyday life worried about being infected with the new coronavirus. The first thing you can do to protect yourself is to understand the route of transmission of the virus and avoid it.

The infection route of the new coronavirus is considered to be droplet infection and contact transmission. It is said that the person is infected by inhaling saliva or small splashes caused by the infected person’s cough or vocalization, or by touching the mouth or nose with the hand that touches it. Approximately 80% of people who have been confirmed to be infected so far are thought not to infect others, but especially “sealed” (closed space with insufficient ventilation) and “dense”. (Many people are gathering) ・ In an environment where the “three dense” of “close” (conversations and vocalizations are held at a short distance) overlap, one infected person infects multiple people. It is said to have a high risk of spreading (it is thought to be transmitted in a poorly ventilated environment without coughing or sneezing).

People who have been in contact with infected persons (confirmed patients) who have been tested positive by PCR for a long time should also be careful as close contacts. The requirements for close contacts include contact for at least 15 minutes at a close distance of about 1 m with inadequate infection control measures. This can happen on public transport or on the go, demonstrating how important it is to avoid the “three cs”. Also, avoiding the “three cs” leads to the practice of a “new lifestyle” that not only protects oneself but also avoids infecting others. Other practical examples of a “new lifestyle” include:

  • Keeping distance between people (Social Distancing)
  • Thoroughly wash your hands and wear a mask * 2 when you go out
  • Keep in mind cough etiquette (when coughing, cover your mouth and nose with tissue or jacket sleeves, etc.)
  • Ensuring sufficient ventilation at home and work, ensuring self-health management with sufficient sleep and nutrition, etc.

* 2 Of the general masks, the non-woven mask has the highest effect, followed by the cloth mask, and then the urethane mask. It is important to choose a mask of the same material that fits your face perfectly.

In these days of paying attention to your health, be careful when you have cold symptoms such as fatigue, fever including low-grade fever, and coughing. Greater care should be taken, especially if there is a possibility of contact with a suspected positive person or a close contact. While recording your own health condition, consult your GP or the consultation desk in each area (described later).

About cold medicine and treatment of new coronavirus infection

If I think I have a cold, can I take a cold medicine?

When you have a cold-like symptom such as a low-grade fever, sore throat, or cough, many people may be worried, “What if you have a new coronavirus infection?” It is difficult to distinguish between a cold and a coronavirus, especially in the initial symptoms, but if you have a strong symptom of suspicion of a cold, taking a cold medicine as needed is an option

Over-the-counter cold remedies are symptomatic treatments that do not eliminate the virus but relieve symptoms such as sore throat and fever. There is no silver bullet for colds, and you have to cure it with your own physical strength and immunity. First of all, in order to prevent the exhaustion of physical strength, it is better to deal with the symptoms of a cold that exhausts the physical strength as soon as possible.
Although research on therapeutic agents for new coronavirus infections is progressing, there are few approved drugs at this time, and established treatments and therapeutic agents are limited, and therapeutic agents are being developed. By the way.

When you think “Is it a cold?”, It is important to refrain from going out unnecessarily and to measure and record your body temperature every day. If you have a common cold, it will peak in 3 to 4 days and then improve. If that doesn’t help, consider the possibility that you don’t have a cold.

If you have any symptoms you are interested in, see a medical institution.

If you have a common cold, taking cold medicine 5 to 6 times will alleviate the symptoms, but if you still do not see any effect, it is possible that you do not have a cold. Stop taking it and consider consulting a medical institution. In winter, infectious diseases that cause fever and cough, such as seasonal influenza, are more likely to prevail. The symptoms of these infections and the new coronavirus infection are very similar. If your symptoms suddenly worsen, or if you have a sudden high fever or strong pain throughout your body, you may have influenza. In that case, consult a medical institution in advance and consult with a doctor. Consider doing it.

If you suspect that you have a new coronavirus infection, you may have a “consultation / consultation center” (the name may differ depending on the area) set up at your GP or your nearest health center, or a medical association or clinic depending on the area. In some cases, we may be accepting consultations, so please contact us. In particular, if you fall under any of the following, please consult us immediately.

If you have strong symptoms

If you have strong symptoms such as dyspnea (difficulty breathing), strong tiredness (malaise), or high fever, you should consult immediately.

People who are prone to severe illness and have mild cold symptoms such as fever and cough

“People who are prone to become severe” here are elderly people, people with underlying diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, and respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.), people undergoing dialysis, immunosuppressants, and others. Refers to people who are using anti-cancer drugs.
Also, just in case you are pregnant, you need to consult as soon as possible, just like the above people.

Even for people other than the above, if the symptoms of a relatively mild cold such as fever or cough continue

Be sure to consult if your symptoms persist for more than 4 days. In addition, since there are individual differences in symptoms, consultation is necessary even if you think that you have strong symptoms.
In addition, those who do not have a fever unless they continue to take antipyretics should also consult.

In addition to the “Consultation / Consultation Center”, consultations may be accepted at medical associations or clinics depending on the area. If you consult with the counter, you will be referred to a specialized outpatient clinic as needed, so please be careful about the spread of infection.

Vaccines for new coronavirus infections and influenza

There are vaccines for new coronavirus infections and influenza. If you have a family hospital, you should consult with us. If not, the local government you live in often has a consultation desk, so please check.
In addition, for the new coronavirus vaccine, there is a comprehensive guide to vaccination “Corona Vaccine Navi ( )”, which describes the vaccination site and how to receive the vaccination. Information is provided, so it is a good idea to refer to it.

In order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection, it is essential for each person to have etiquette (wearing a mask, cough etiquette, etc.) and careful action. After understanding the difference between a cold or influenza and a new coronavirus infection, check the notifications from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and each prefecture diligently, and if you feel “maybe”, go to the consultation desk provided by the national or local government. Let’s talk.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare website )
has a list of notifications from the national and prefectural governments and telephone consultation counters. Please take advantage of it.

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