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Differences between COVID-19, flu and colds

As summer ends, we’re all apt to catch something. 

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When summer ends, many of us start spending more time indoors. As if COVID-19 weren't giving us enough to deal with, we're all also at risk of coming down with other illnesses — allergies, the flu or a cold.  Even though we’re doing more to keep ourselves safe now than we may have in the past, we can still get sick. 

“We get a lot of questions from patients who wonder if their symptoms could be related to COVID-19,” said Efrem Castillo, MD, senior medical director, Optum. “Luckily, that's usually not the case.”

How can you tell the source of 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. Especially if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.”

When to get care for COVID-19

Look for the emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If any of these symptoms are present, 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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Does Medicare cover a COVID-19 screening?

Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no extra money. Medicare Advantage plans do, too. Check with your plan about what it covers and what the test costs.

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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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Questions about COVID-19 symptoms? 

Don’t wait. Make an in-person or video visit appointment now. Find an Optum Care location near you. 

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