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Differences between COVID-19, flu and colds

As summer ends, many of us might catch something. 

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When fall sends many of us indoors more often, we spend more time with others in closed and public spaces. Since COVID-19, we’re doing more to keep ourselves safe. But we still can come down with other things such as allergies, the flu or a cold.   

“We get a lot of questions from people who are worried they have COVID-19,” said Efrem Castillo, MD, senior medical director, Optum. “Luckily, that's usually not the case.”

But how do you know what's causing that sneeze, fever or achy feeling? 

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“It's impossible to tell by signs and symptoms alone,” Dr. Castillo said. “If you have new symptoms, get tested for COVID-19. This is especially important if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.”

When to get care for COVID-19

If you have any of these warning signs for COVID-19, get care right away:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Can't wake up or can't stay awake
  • Blue lips or face

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Will Medicare cover COVID-19 tests?

Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no extra money. Medicare Advantage plans do, too. You pay nothing extra. 

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Sources:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Medicare (medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus)

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.

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