What symptoms should I look out for?

Fever? Cough? Getting to grips with your symptoms can be tricky. If you’re struggling to spot the difference between COVID-19, a common cold, and the flu, we’re here to help. Check out our handy table below or keep scrolling for extra information about COVID-19 symptoms.

Recognising COVID-19 (coronavirus) symptoms

Covid-19 Cold Flu
Fever (≥37.8°C) Common* Rare Common
Cough Common* (usually dry & continuous) Common (mild) Common (usually dry)
Loss of smell or taste Common* Rare Common
Shortness of breath Sometimes Rare Rare
Headache Sometimes Sometimes Rare
Sore throat Sometimes Common Sometimes
Runny or stuffy nose Rare Common Sometimes
Sneezing Rare Common Sometimes
Aches & pains Sometimes Sometimes Common (often severe)
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes (mild) Common (often severe & can last 2-3 weeks)
Diarrhoea Sometimes No Sometimes
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

• Fever (higher than 37.8 degrees) – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back. You don’t need to take your temperature to work out if you have a fever, although it may be useful

• Cough (usually dry and continuous) – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours. If you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual

• Loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste – you can’t smell or taste anything, or you’ve noticed things smell or taste different

If you have any of these symptoms, you should follow the latest guidance from your local government on getting tested and self-isolating. If you think you have coronavirus, please do not go to a GP, pharmacy or a hospital. 

Other possible symptoms of coronavirus include:

• Shortness of breath

• Headache

• Sore throat

• Aches and pains

• Fatigue

• Diarrhoea

If you have any of the above symptoms and you’re not sure what to do, or if you're concerned about your symptoms and need medical advice, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or your local equivalent, to check what steps to take next.

Treating coronavirus symptoms

If you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms it’s important that you self-isolate, follow the latest guidance, and don’t go to the doctor or pharmacy. We’ve put some tips together below to help you manage your coronavirus symptoms:

Tips for easing a high temperature

If you have a high temperature, it can help to take paracetamol or ibuprofen (if they’re suitable for you), drink plenty of water and get lots of rest.

Tips for helping with a cough

Try lying on your side at night, rather than your back, if you have a cough. Take a look at our range of cough syrups and pastilles for something that could help soothe your cough.

Tips on breathlessness

If you’re feeling breathless, try not to panic. Do your best to relax and take slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth until your breathlessness eases.

If you feel your breathlessness is getting worse, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service for more advice.

*Our COVID-19 tests are not suitable for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, or anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19.

Information correct at time of publication (12.01am 23/12/2020)