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Guide to COVID-19 Symptoms

COVID-19 research is still in the beginning stages and there is much that remains uncertain. This table compares the symptoms of COVID-19 to that of the flu and the common cold. Similar to the flu, the symptoms of COVID-19 may range from mild to severe. Mild cases are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as those which will not need hospitalization to resolve. The most severe cases may require supplemental oxygen or breathing machines to treat respiratory issues. Familiarize yourself with the differences in symptoms between COVID-19, the flu, and the common cold.

Download a printable copy of the Guide to COVID-19 Symptoms

This resource is a vital concept for all nurses and may accompany any of our continuing education courses. View the general class catalog here.

Guide to COVID-19 Symptoms

Incubation Period  1—3 days  2—14 days 1—4 days
Symtom Onset Gradual Gradual Abrupt
Body Aches & Pains Slight Sometimes Common
May be severe
Chills Uncommon Sometimes Fairly Common
Cough Mild to moderate Common Common
May become severe
Diarrhea Rare Sometimes Sometimes
Extreme Exhaustion Never Common Common
Early onset
Fatigue & Weakness Sometimes Common Common
Usually intense
May last 2-3 weeks
Fever Rare Common
High (100 - 102 °F)
Fever may last 3-4 days
Headache Rare Sometimes
May be intense
Loss of Appetite Sometimes Sometimes Common
Loss of Taste or Smell Sometimes Sometimes Sometimes
Nasal Congestion Common Somtimes Sometimes
Respiratory Issues Sometimes Common Sometimes
Runny Nose Common Sometimes Sometimes
Shortness of Breath Rare Common in serious infections Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes Sometimes



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