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Is It A Cold? Is It the Flu? Is It COVID-19?

A number of common winter illnesses can present with similar symptoms, and this year, novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been added to the list of respiratory illnesses. It can be difficult to determine the cause of a respiratory illness, and often times, an ill person may not feel like leaving home to visit a doctor. Fortunately, Navicent Health offers a virtual option to bring providers directly to the ill person for diagnosis and treatment.

“The winter months are typically a time when we see increased viral spread. This has less to do with cold weather, and more to do with the fact that people tend to congregate indoors during cold weather. This allows viruses to spread more easily among hosts. We typically see cold and flu this time of year, and now, we also have to consider COVID-19 as the cause of illness,” said Jeff Stephens, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Navicent Health.

Although cold, flu and COVID-19 viruses have similar symptoms, there are slight differences.

Typical Symptoms:

· COVID-19 – Cough, shortness of breath, fever, possible diarrhea

· Flu – Aches, chills, cough, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat, stuffy nose, vomiting

· Cold – Cough, postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the throat), runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose, watery eyes, possible fever

Typical Length of Time for Symptoms to Appear:

· COVID-19 – 2-14 days after exposure to the virus

· Flu – 1-4 days after exposure to the virus

· Cold – 1-3 days after exposure to the virus

Typical Length of Time Symptoms Last:

· COVID-19 – Undetermined

· Flu – 3-7 days

· Cold – 7-10 days

“Many of the practices that can protect us from COVID-19 – such as masking, social distancing and proper hand hygiene – will also protect us from cold and flu viruses. In addition, we encourage people to get their flu shots. This is your best defense against flu,” said Dr. Stephens.

For those who do become ill this winter, Navicent Health, in partnership with Atrium Health, offers Virtual Visit. Virtual Visit allows those who are ill to connect directly to board-certified practitioners 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the comfort of their own home. Using a phone, tablet or computer, healthcare consumers may visit and select Virtual Visit to speak with a provider. Virtual Visit is designed as an on-demand service, with no need to make an appointment.

“By using Virtual Visit, healthcare consumers can consult with their doctor, receive a real-time assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan. Virtual Visit offers a solution for conditions normally treated through primary and urgent care, such as colds, flu, allergies, bronchitis, sinus infections and COVID-19,” said Sanford Duke, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer for Navicent Health.

Virtual Visit should not be used for life-threatening conditions. In the event of an emergency, healthcare consumers should call 911.

The guidelines outlined above are typical for each diagnosis, but in no way serve as a substitute for professional medical care. Consult your physician if you experience symptoms.

About Navicent Health

Navicent Health, the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Navicent Health provides care for healthcare consumers’ through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Navicent Health is dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit