If You Have A Bad Runny Nose, This Could Be Why

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have all been on high alert any time we developed symptoms like a runny nose or cough. The milder symptoms of an infection with COVID-19 can be very similar to those of a common cold, flu, or even an allergy, and without testing, it can be difficult to tell them apart, writes Parade. More recently, we are beginning to see what Medical News Today reports is being called a "super cold."

Dr. Ian Mackay, a professor interviewed by Medical News Today, explains that it might not be so much that there is a new super cold. What is happening is that fewer people are masking and social distancing now, so what we are seeing is simply a return of the common cold and flu that was once held at bay by the same measures that protected us from COVID-19. We have forgotten what the symptoms of a cold or flu feel like so we may think they feel worse.

Is it a cold, flu, allergies, or COVID-19?

The Mayo Clinic writes that there is a lot of overlap between cold, flu, allergy, and mild COVID-19 symptoms, including a runny or stuffy nose, so it can be difficult to tell the difference. Understanding what condition you have, however, is important in treatment and prevention.

Both colds and COVID-19 can cause cough, muscle aches, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, fever, and loss of taste or smell. However, loss of taste and smell during colds is typically caused by a stuffy nose, whereas people with COVID-19 will usually lose taste and smell even if a stuffy nose isn't present. Moreover, a cold does not cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, as COVID-19 sometimes does.

Seasonal allergies can sometimes be mistaken for COVID-19 as well. Overlapping symptoms include cough, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, and loss of smell. Allergies will not cause fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, however. In addition, allergies may cause itchy nose, mouth, eyes, or inner ears.

Flu also has many overlapping symptoms with COVID-19 including cough, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Both may cause breathing problems or shortness of breath, but loss of taste and smell is rare with the flu.

Laboratory testing can distinguish between the flu and COVID-19. The CDC suggests COVID-19 testing if you have symptoms, need screening for work or school, before and after travel, and five days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.