COVID-19 or a common cold?: What experts suggest you do if experiencing symptoms

A man blows his nose.
A man blows his nose.(Credit: KALB)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 7:08 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Feeling sick can be especially concerning these days. In the past you might get a stuffy nose and not think twice about it, but now it’s hard to know if those sniffles or that sore throat is COVID-19 or just the common cold.

It’s a tricky situation because COVID-19, especially the Omicron variant, and the common cold share some of the same symptoms and COVID-19 tests are hard to come by these days.

“With Omicron, the difference we’re seeing, it’s presenting more like a common cold,” said Cassaundra Hefner, a family nurse practitioner with Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine & Convenient Care in Brunswick. “Starting out mostly with a sore throat and just a runny nose — your common cold symptoms.”

Hefner said that anyone feeling symptoms should try and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

“We would want you to be tested that way we prevent you from spreading it to someone else and also we know what to do with you if your symptoms were to progress,” she said.

Right now, however, it’s difficult to immediately get a hold of a rapid test or a PCR test. Hefner said that if anyone having trouble getting tested should treat their symptoms like COVID and stay home.

“If you have the mild symptoms — treat yourself at home as much as you can,” she said. “Stay at home the five days that is requested by the CDC.”

Hefner also said that over the counter medicines can offer relief for anyone experiencing symptoms.

“Take your Tylenol, take your over the counter products that help with the symptoms you are having,” she said. “If you have severe, sudden onset shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, a painful cough that feels different, if your colors not good — if you look a little pale or gray or your lips are blue — that’s a problem, so seek emergency care immediately.”

There are some symptoms that might help distinguish COVID from a cold or allergies. More severe cases of COVID-19 have more GI symptoms like nausea or diarrhea that you would not normally see with the common cold or allergies.

There is also more of a dry cough associated with COVID-19 as well as muscle aches.

Hefner said that they are working tirelessly right now and doing what they can to help the community. They see an average of 200 people or more a day between patient visits and COVID testing.

Copyright 2022 WECT. All rights reserved.