Cold or Covid? How to inform the distinction concerning signs

In pre-pandemic times, if you acquired a sniffle and a headache, you may possibly dismiss it as an regular cold and carry on as normal, even if you felt a minimal tough around the edges.

But as these signs or symptoms are now some of the main indicators of Covid-19 as well, how can you be specified you have just caught a chilly?

The NHS up to date its Covid information website page at the start off of April 2022, introducing nine new official indications of the virus.

Though folks were being beforehand urged to acquire a exam if they had a temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or alter to the sense of smell or taste, new indicators are pretty similar to other sicknesses, these types of as colds or flus.

There are now a whole of 12 indications, including complications, a sore throat and a blocked or runny nose. The NHS has also included shortness of breath, sensation much more weary than regular, entire body aches, loss of urge for food, diarrhoea and sensation ill or remaining ill.

The adjust is in line with conclusions by experts behind the ZOE Covid Study, who have lengthy warned that those people with a sore throat, runny nose and a headache – all symptoms of the common chilly – possible have the Omicron variant.

Professor Tim Spector, a lead author of the examine, formerly criticised the federal government for not including additional signs or symptoms to its official list prior to ending the free of charge testing programme on 1 April.

“The government’s refusal to recognise the vast array of indicators and to fall isolation advice and screening is likely driving the incredible amount of situations we see today,” Professor Spector mentioned.

Authorities consider cold-like signs or symptoms are far more probably to existing in men and women who have been vaccinated.

Christina Marriott, chief govt of the Royal Society for Public Wellness mentioned: “Growing evidence exhibits that persons who’ve acquired two doses of the vaccine generally current with much less critical signs or symptoms, these as headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and reduction of smell.

“It’s significant for persons who’ve been entirely vaccinated to remain vigilant for cold-like signs, and get examined if they’re dwelling or doing work about people today who are at better danger from the condition.”

Professor Irene Petersen, a professor of epidemiology and wellbeing informatics at University College or university London, extra: “A runny nose and headache are indicators of numerous infections, but may perhaps also be the initially signs and symptoms – and only indications – of Covid. As a result, if you have these indications, I’d encourage you to use lateral move tests (LFT) for a pair of days.

“The initial couple LFT checks may possibly be detrimental, but if you have Covid the assessments are probable to come to be optimistic within just a couple of days. Also, if you know other men and women all-around you have Covid, the chance your runny nose and/or headache is also Covid is a lot greater.”

As of 1 April, most of the populace will now require to fork out for LFTs. These are offered at Boots and Superdrug from £1.99. The government has also published a listing of accredited companies in this article.

In this article are some indicators that issue to whether or not you have Covid or a cold.


A headache is one particular of the new signs of Covid that has been mentioned by the NHS.

Head aches are 1 of the earliest indicators, according to the ZOE research, and are more typical than the typical indications of cough, fever and decline of scent.

ZOE investigation found that Covid problems have a tendency to be moderately to seriously unpleasant, can be “pulsing”, “pressing” or “stabbing”, happen across equally sides of the head instead than in a single space, could previous for far more than a few times and are inclined to be resistant to common painkillers.

Runny nose

A blocked or runny nose is also a new addition to the NHS signs and symptoms checklist.

Final winter, the ZOE analyze found that a runny nose was the 2nd most frequently documented symptom right after complications, with just about 60 for every cent of people who examined favourable for Covid with reduction of scent also reporting having a runny nose.

But now the facts indicates that the prevalence of the illness is the most important variable. So, when Covid fees are higher, the possibilities of a runny nose remaining because of to the virus are also superior.

The analyze also stresses that when Covid rates are lower, a runny nose is a lot less possible to point out the sufferer has caught the coronavirus and is extra probable to be because of to a chilly or even an allergy.‍

It concludes that while a lot of persons with Covid may well report a runny nose, it is complicated to connect with it a definitive symptom as it is so popular, in particular during winter season.


Sneezing is not recognised as an official symptom by the NHS, but the ZOE examine uncovered that sneezing much more than normal can be a signal of Covid in people who have been vaccinated.

Even so, it stresses sneezing is considerably extra very likely to be a indication of a cold or an allergy.

It suggests that even even though a lot of men and women with Covid could sneeze, “it’s not a definitive symptom due to the fact sneezing is so common”.

Sore throat

The NHS has added a sore throat to the formal checklist of indications.

A lot of persons with Covid have noted by way of the ZOE app that they have a sore throat that feels identical to one you could possibly expertise you get when you have a cold or laryngitis.

Covid-related sore throats have a tendency to be delicate and previous no much more than 5 days so a quite painful a single that lasts more time is probably to be something else. If it persists, you really should contact your GP.

According to ZOE information, practically fifty percent of people who are ill with Covid report owning a sore throat, even though this is a lot more common in adults aged in between 18-65 than the elderly or people under 18.

Decline of smell

This continues to be the strongest indicator of Covid infection, regardless of a person’s age, intercourse or illness severity.

When men and women who have Covid could possibly not eliminate their perception of scent completely, it may possibly transform, so you may not be capable to smell strongly-scented issues, and your sense of taste may well be affected as well, so meals could taste different or seem to be tasteless.

Persistent cough

A persistent cough is widely agreed to be 1 of the 3 most important symptoms of Covid but, according to the ZOE analyze, only about 4 in 10 people who are unwell with the virus will experience this.

In this context, “persistent” suggests coughing many periods a working day, “for fifty percent a working day or more”.

A Covid cough is usually a dry cough, as opposed with a chesty 1 that delivers up phlegm or mucus and that could show a bacterial infection.

A persistent cough tends to arrive close to a several times into the health issues and usually lasts for all-around 4 or 5 times.