If you’ve recently had a runny nose, you may be wondering if you have a cold, allergies, or maybe you have COVID-19.
Health officials say it can be hard to tell what you’re experiencing based on the symptoms, but getting tested is one way to find out. That includes people who have been vaccinated, experts say.
“Even if it’s a sore throat, it doesn’t matter what it is,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, in a Facebook live last month. “I’ve told this to my own staff, it’s what I do myself… if you’re sick, even a little sick, stay home. More true than ever right now, because sick, even a little sick, until it’s the opposite has been proven with a test – that’s COVID. That’s how we treat it, that’s how you should treat it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the common cold, allergies and the coronavirus overlap in some symptoms, such as the possibility of coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, headache, sore throat and congestion.
Symptoms more related to the coronavirus include fever, muscle and body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
For some people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that go away in a few weeks. For others, it may cause no symptoms at all. For some, the virus can cause more serious illness, including pneumonia and death.
Even those who receive the coronavirus vaccine can still contract the virus and develop symptoms.
Most people who are vaccinated have no symptoms or show very mild symptoms, according to health officials, and the virus rarely results in hospitalization or death for those individuals.
Coronavirus and the common cold have many symptoms in common.
According to the Mayo Clinic, diarrhea and nausea or vomiting are the only symptoms of the coronavirus that don’t overlap with the common cold.
The hospital also notes that while COVID-19 symptoms generally appear two to 14 days after exposure to SARS-CoV-2, cold symptoms usually appear one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus.
Dr. Katherine Poehling, an infectious disease specialist and member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told NBC News in January that coughing, congestion, runny nose and fatigue appear to be prominent symptoms in the omicron variety.
But unlike the delta variant, many patients do not lose their taste or smell. She noted that these symptoms may only reflect certain populations.