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Is It Covid-19, Cold, Or A Flu?

December 8, 2021
Family ill with flu at home.

How many times has this happened to you? Someone coughs or sneezes which immediately has you in a state of panic! While you oh so gracefully try to back away from this person and their germs, you’re thinking, “Did I just get exposed to Covid-19?” After seeing the look of fear on your face they respond with, “Oh don't worry it's just a cold. I promise!”

But since symptoms of coronavirus can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure, no one can ‘promise’ they don’t have it, unless they go and get tested for Covid-19. While doing a temperature check to ensure you don’t have a fever is a step in the right direction, it’s not a 100% guarantee, as a fever is just one of many possible symptoms.

To make things even more stressful, with the colder weather upon us, we now have both the cold and flu season to contend with, all the while living in our crazy Covid-19 world. It may look like things are getting back to normal, but don’t be fooled.  The coronavirus pandemic is far from over and we must continue to take precautions. While you can’t control being exposed to other people’s germs, you can minimize the risk by wearing a mask covering.

Do your part to protect yourself and others

The minute you start feeling sick or symptomatic, it’s smart to try and figure out what you might have, in order to take a proper course of action- is it Covid-19, Cold, or Flu? Let’s take a closer look at the commonalities and differences between the three:


COVID-19 virus cell.

The World Health Organization defines Covid-19 as an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Most of those infected will have mild to moderate respiratory illnesses. But those immunocompromised or those who suffer from other health issues are much more likely to become seriously ill and require medical attention. In Canada, nearly 2 million people have been infected with approximately 30 thousand dying from Covid-19.

What are Covid symptoms?

The most common symptoms include a fever, cough, tiredness, and a loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include a sore throat, headache, aches and pains, diarrhea, skin rashes, discolouration on fingers or toes, and red or irritated eyes.

Woman laying sick on the couch checking her temperature..

How can you best protect yourself?

Get fully vaccinated (if you haven’t already). Click the link below to either book your Covid-19 vaccine appointment in your area and/or find out if you qualify for a Covid-19 booster shot (if it’s been 6 months since your 2nd Covid-19 vaccine dose and you meet the government’s criteria in order to qualify for the booster shot).

woman showing Thumb sign with bandage after receiving covid 19 vaccine.

How can you keep safe from Covid-19?

Mask up every time you’re around others and keep your distance - at least 6 feet apart. Also, if you don’t have access to handwashing, carry an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Social distancing in a supermarket. A woman in face mask buying drinking water in a bottle.

If you feel unwell, experts advise you should stay home and self-isolate until you fully recover. If you suspect you have coronavirus and need help, just contact the Covid-19 information line at

1-833-784-4397 or go to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s site.

A closer look at the Flu

Close-up of mother measuring sick son's temperature.

The Flu is defined as a respiratory illness caused primarily by the influenza A and B viruses. While most people recover in 7 to 10 days, severe illness can occur. Certain groups are at a greater risk of influenza-related complications. In Canada, on average, every year we see over 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths related to the flu.

Flu symptoms can vary with some only getting slightly sick, while others can get very sick. Symptoms appear in 1 - 4 days after exposure to the virus and typically include fever, cough, muscle aches, and pain. Other common symptoms are headache, chills, fatigue, loss of appetite, sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose.

How to protect yourself from getting the flu?
Get your flu shot every year! It’s important because the flu viruses change each year and experts create a new vaccine to protect you each flu season. If you want to get your flu shot and want to find out where you can get it in your area, just click here.

And the common Cold

The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). Colds are typically harmless although they make you feel weak and tired for a few days. Symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, coughing, headaches, and body aches. Many different types of viruses can cause a common cold. It has been estimated that Canadian adults suffer 2 - 5 colds annually.

Woman sitting on couch sneezing into a blanket.

Cold prevention means washing your hands and often! Also using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent catching the cold. Don’t forget to disinfect surfaces you touch often like doorknobs.

Young girl and her mother are washing hands.

Symptom Checklist

Here is a symptom checklist from the World Health Organization to help you figure out what you may have caught, Covid-19, Cold or Flu.

World Health Organization Coronavirus, Cold and Flu comparison chart.

While there are many similarities between these viruses based on symptoms alone, it’s difficult to tell the difference between Covid-19, Cold, and Flu. So, while it might be tempting to think ‘well, I don’t have a fever, so it’s probably not coronavirus’, your safest bet according to the experts is to call your local Telehealth hotline as soon as you start to feel unwell, and they will advise you whether or not you need to go and get tested for Covid-19.

Health Care Access

Check out this list of toll-free province-wide phone numbers to access health care advice, open 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Alberta Health Services - 1 -866- 408- 5465

Healthlink BC - 604- 215-8110

HealthLinks Manitoba - 1-888-315-9257

Yukon HealthLine - 811

New Brunswick Telecare - 1-800-244-8353 or 811

Newfoundland Healthline- 1- 888-709-2929

North West Territories - (use Yukon Healthline) - 811

811Nova Scotia - 1-866-770-7763 *711 or 811

Ontario - Telehealth - 1-866-797-0000

Prince Edward Island 811 Telehealth - 811 or 1-866-770-7724 *711

Québec Info-Santé 811 - 811*

Saskatchewan Healthline - 811 or 1-877-800-0002

How Pillway can help

Getting proper medical advice from your own qualified healthcare practitioner, your Pillway Pharmacist, or contacting your province’s Telehealth line will get you closer to a proper diagnosis.

Skip the waiting room! Click here to book your appointment today with a Canadian doctor to be treated for any condition.

If you have any other questions about your pharmaceutical and/or healthcare needs, feel free to contact us, we are here for you and happy to help!

1-833-PILLWAY (745-5929)

Mon-Fri: 9 am-8 pm ET

Sat: 10am-7pm ET

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other materials are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician and/or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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