You Ask, We Investigate: Allergies, cold, flu or COVID-19?


Similarities and differences between COVID-19, the cold, flu, and allergies

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner looked into the similarities and differences between COVID-19, the cold, flu, and allergies.

COVID-19 is a new version of a virus called coronavirus, according to Gary Berner, chief medical officer at Community Clinic NWA. He said coronavirus has been around for decades causing the common cold, but a new form of it is the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berner said the common cold is caused by multiple different viruses leading to typically 3-10 days of mild fever, congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and fatigue. He said viruses that cause the common cold are extremely common and can cause illnesses throughout the year, especially during the winter.

Data from the World Health Organization and CDC

Seasonal allergies are caused by particles in the air called allergens, according to Berner. Examples of allergens are pollen from grasses and trees, common house molds, and dust mites. They are not caused by a virus or bacteria. He said allergies tend to cause milder but very annoying congestion, sneezing, cough, nasal irritation, and a runny nose. They can frequently be seasonal, or sometimes long term.

Berner said the flu is caused by the influenza virus. It is a different virus that generally causes more significant fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. He said the medical community still has a high concern for patients with the flu and is still actively testing and treating it.

If there is something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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