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Difference Between Coronavirus and Cold Symptoms

Coronavirus was only recently discovered in Wuhan in 2019 and has been named 2019-nCoV. The cold and associated symptoms are usually due to a different virus named rhinovirus.

What is Coronavirus?

Definition:

Coronavirus is a crown-shaped virus which was recently discovered in 2019 in the city of Wuhan in China and has been called 2019-nCoV. It causes problems throughout the respiratory system including the lungs.

Symptoms and complications:

The usual symptoms include the development of a fever, a cough, and people often have a problem with breathing. The illness often leads to pneumonia which can be severe. About 2 out of 100 people who are infected die from the condition. The illness is most dangerous in older individuals and those who have a preexisting illness such as heart disease.

Diagnosis:

Besides noting symptoms doctors can test for the coronavirus by using a special molecular test, an RT-PCR that looks for the genetic material of the 2019-nCoV virus.

Transmission:

This virus is thought to likely be a zoonotic infection meaning that it was at some stage transmitted from an as yet unknown animal host into humans. It is currently being transferred from one individual person to another through respiratory secretions that are released when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

Risk factors:

Health care workers and people in close proximity to sick and infected individuals are at the highest risk of contracting this coronavirus.

Treatment:

Treatment is largely supportive but in a few cases certain types of antivirals seem to offer some relief for sick individuals. About 1 in 5 patients need help in a hospital and need to be given extra oxygen to assist with breathing.

What is Cold Symptoms?

Definition:

Cold symptoms usually result from a rhinovirus which affects the upper parts of the respiratory tract.

Symptoms and complications:

The symptoms of a cold include a runny nose, a sore throat and often a cough. The illness is confined to the upper respiratory tract and complications are very rare. However, people who are already very ill with a disease such as AIDs are at an increased risk for complications and possibly death.

Diagnosis:

The cold can be tentatively diagnosed by a doctor after noting the symptoms that an individual has. There is, however, a PCR test that is available and can be used to confirm that the person has a rhinovirus which is causing the cold symptoms.

Transmission:

The common cold is contagious and easily transmitted from one individual to another through respiratory secretions that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Risk factors:

You are at a higher risk of a cold if you work with ill people in a healthcare setting or are have close contact with somebody who is ill with a cold.

Treatment:

The symptoms can be treated with pain killers and sometimes antihistamines or decongestants. The illness is most often mild and does go away after a period of time.

Difference  Between Coronavirus and Cold Symptoms?

Definition

Coronavirus is an illness caused by a virus that is named 2019-nCoV. Cold symptoms are due to the cold virus named rhinovirus.

Incubation period

Coronavirus incubation varies from about 2 days to 14 days. Incubation for the common cold is from 24 hours up to 72 hours before symptoms appear.

Diagnosis

An rRT-PCR molecular test looking for genetic material is used for diagnosing coronavirus. A RT-PCR test can be used in a similar way but looking for the genes of rhinovirus when diagnosing a cold.

Symptoms

Coronavirus has severe symptoms of fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and frequently the person does develop pneumonia. Cold symptoms include a sore throat, cough, and runny nose, and the condition is usually a mild illness.

Transmission

Coronavirus transmission is from one individual to another via respiratory secretions and is thought to have come from some type of animal host. Cold symptoms happen when people catch a cold from sick and infected individuals via infected respiratory droplets.

Treatment

Coronavirus treatment is mainly supportive, sometimes people need to be given extra oxygen and there is some evidence antivirals may help. Cold symptoms are treated using pain killers and decongestants or antihistamines.

Mortality

About 2 in 100 people with coronavirus die. It is extremely rare for someone with a cold to die unless they are in a very weak state such as someone who has AIDS.

Table Comparing Coronavirus and Cold Symptoms

Summary of Coronavirus Vs. Cold Symptoms

  • Coronavirus and the cold are both very contagious illnesses.
  • Coronavirus symptoms involve problems with the lungs and thus with breathing, often leading to pneumonia.
  • The symptoms of the cold involve the upper respiratory system and so a person has a runny nose and sore throat, and a mild cough.
  • A cold is a mild illness in the vast majority of people.
  • The novel coronavirus is a much more severe illness than the cold often leading to people needing to go to the hospital.
Dr. Rae Osborn
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References :


[0]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cold_symptoms_cdc.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3D_medical_animation_corona_virus.jpg

[2]Akpan, Nsikan. “new-coronavirus-spreading-between-humans-how-it-started”. National Geographic, 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/01/new-coronavirus-spreading-between-humans-how-it-started/

[3]Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “2019 Novel Coronavirus”.  CDC, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

[4]Tesini, Brenda L. “Common cold”. Merck Manual, 2018, https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/respiratory-viruses/common-cold#v1018806

[5]https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Symptoms_of_coronavirus_disease_2019_3.0.png

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