Breaking News
More () »

Is it a cold? The flu? Or coronavirus? Here's how to tell the difference

Common symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) include fever and dry cough.

MINNEAPOLIS — We're getting a lot of questions about symptoms from viewers, who want to know if what they're feeling is just a cold, the flu, or the coronavirus?

After several weeks of fighting COVID-19, doctors now have a better idea of how it attacks the human body.

Being a respiratory virus, Hennepin Healthcare emergency director Dr. John Hick says the most noticeable symptoms are a fever and a dry cough.

"If you do get a fever, dry cough, that can last for a day or two and then usually people just feel wiped out, just muscle aches, extreme fatigue," Hick says.

Unlike the common cold, Hick says wet coughs, stuffy noses and excess mucus are not typically seen in coronavirus patients.

RELATED: MN doctors and nurses concerned about personal protection equipment shortage

RELATED: Here are the coronavirus cases confirmed in MN, WI

"Nasal congestion is not a typical feature. Any stomach symptoms are not typical features at all either. So, if you have kind of bad cold symptoms, that would not be very suspicious for coronavirus," Hick says.

Dr. Hick says some coronavirus patients have also lost their sense of smell and taste for a short period of time.

He says in milder cases this might be the only symptom a patient sees.

If it is a mild case, Hick says you can just stay home and isolate yourself unless the symptoms get worse.

"The main things we would want you to seek medical attention for is if you're having any increased difficulty breathing. And then any other severe symptoms you're having that just seem way out of line for a typical viral infection. We would want to know about that," Hick says.

If you think you might have COVID-19, Hick recommends using telemedicine first.

Don't immediately go to your doctor in person.

Call your doctor or clinic to set up a virtual appointment so you can practice safe social distancing.

Your doctor should be able to tell you whether or not your case is mild enough to just stay home and self-isolate, or if your case is serious enough that you should go to the hospital.

RELATED: Wisconsin business owners prepare to close their doors Tuesday morning

"You certainly can call 911 if you feel you have an emergency situation that needs to be addressed. We would always recommend people think about is this an emergency before making that phone call."

And doctors say don't be surprised if you don't get tested.

They're saving the tests for severe cases and health care workers on the front lines.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

More information on the coronavirus: 

Before You Leave, Check This Out