how-can-you-differentiate-a-common-cold-from-novel-coronavirus-infection
5
How can you differentiate a common cold from Novel Coronavirus infection?

How can you differentiate a common cold from Novel Coronavirus infection?

Last Reviewed : 12/16/2020
How can you differentiate a common cold from Novel Coronavirus infection?

Common colds are common throughout winter in the northern hemisphere. In tropical areas, they are common during the rainy season. On average, children have 6-8 colds per year and adults have 2-4 colds per year. Rhinoviruses are the most common viruses causing common cold (30%-50%), followed by Coronaviruses [not Novel Coronavirus] (5%-15%).

Symptoms of common cold usually depend on the type of virus causing it. Most of the common colds last for 7-10 days. Common colds typically start with a sore throat, followed by runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing and cough. Initial watery secretions from the nose soon turn into thicker yellowish secretions. Fever is less common with common cold. Body aches and fatigue are not common with common cold.

About 81% of the Novel Coronavirus infections are mild in nature. The majority of the affected people have mild flu-like symptoms. In 14% of the affected, disease may progress to severe illness and in 5% critical illness requiring ICU level of care. The most common symptom is fever (89%), followed by cough (68%), fatigue (38%), sputum production (34%), shortness of breath (19%), body aches and joint pains (15%), headache (14%) and sore throat (14%). There are several overlapping symptoms but frequency and severity of the symptoms in both these conditions give clinicians a clue if it is common cold or Coronavirus infection.

Symptom

Common Cold

Novel Coronavirus

Fever

Less common

Most common symptom

Cough

Often

Second most common symptom

Fatigue

Less common

Third most common symptom

Sputum production

Often

Common symptom

Shortness of breath

Rare

Often

Body aches and joint pains

Rare

Often

Runny nose

Common

Less common (only 5%)

Sore throat

Common

Seen in 14% of cases

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

None

Seen in 5% of cases

Symptoms of common cold may vary once it is complicated by a bacterial infection. Symptoms of common cold also vary slightly due to Influenza viruses. Influenza viruses may have wide range of symptoms starting from common cold to more severe lower respiratory tract infections like pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

 

References:

  1. The common cold. Heikkinen T et al. Lancet. 2003 Jan 4;361(9351):51-9.
  2. The common cold. Lorber B et al. J Gen Intern Med. 1996 Apr;11(4):229-36.
  3. Treatment of signs and symptoms of the common cold using EPs 7630 - results of a meta-analysis. Andreas Schapowal et al. Heliyon. 2019 Nov; 5(11): e02904. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e02904
  4. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. Wei-jie Guan et al. New Eng Journal of Medicine. February 28, 2020
    DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2002032

Please leave your comments:



Related Articles