Runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever: Since the symptoms are often similar at the beginning of an illness, it is initially not clear whether it is a bacterial or a viral infection.

At first glance, the symptoms of the novel coronavirus with the abbreviation 2019-nCoV are similar to the symptoms that we know from “normal flu”. What is interesting is what are not typical symptoms of the new pathogen:

Typical symptoms of the coronavirus:

  • fever
  • Cough (dry)
  • difficulty in breathing
  • muscle pain
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • less common symptoms: sputum, headache, coughing up blood, diarrhoea

NO typical symptoms of the new pathogen:

  • sniff
  • Sore throat

Runny nose and sore throat are the typical signs of infection in the upper respiratory tract. So if you have to sneeze constantly and have a runny nose, you probably have a cold or the normal flu. Since the new pathogen mainly affects the lower respiratory tract, the infected mostly have a dry cough, shortness of breath and / or pneumonia, but not a sore throat.

These typical symptoms may or may not appear!

In many patients, the infection with the new coronavirus is also mild to asymptomatic. The incubation period with the new Coronavirus can last up to 14 days, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

If you are not sure or are afraid, please see a doctor. He may send a sputum sample to the laboratory to have it checked for respiratory viruses. That brings clarity to the doctor and you.

China woman with protective mask in Beijing train station (Reuters / CG Rawlins)Largely ineffective masks: Coronaviruses are transmitted by a droplet infection

Do respirators protect against a virus infection?

Not really. Viruses cannot fly, and current coronaviruses are also transmitted by a droplet or smear infection. So keep away from infected or possibly infected people and wash your hands regularly and carefully, i.e. with soap and then, if possible, use disposable paper towels. 

Flu or cold? These are the little differences

Even doctors sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between “normal flu” and “simple cold” based on the symptoms.

With a simple cold, the throat usually scratches first, the nose runs and then the cough begins. For several days we have a sore throat, runny nose, slimy cough or dry cough, slightly elevated temperature, the head is buzzing and you feel weak.

Real flu,  on the other hand, suddenly knocks you out. The head and limbs hurt, you get dry cough and hoarseness, your throat hurts, you have a fever up to 41 ° C, often with chills. You just want to lie in bed, feel completely limp, not hungry and you could sleep for hours.

Cold - lying sick on the couch (picture alliance / dpa / C. Klose)A “real flu” comes suddenly and often with a high fever

You have survived a normal cold after a few days, the symptoms subside after about a week. The real flu, on the other hand, is usually a little more protracted, it usually knocks out the sufferer for a week, and sometimes it takes even several weeks until you are fully recovered.

The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends annual flu vaccination for those who are at increased risk of getting particularly difficult to get sick. This includes people aged 60 and over, chronically ill people of all ages, pregnant women and residents of old people’s and nursing homes. 

However, people who are in contact with many people should also protect themselves (e.g. medical staff, people in institutions with extensive public traffic).

When should antibiotics be used?

Most colds and the flu (influenza) are caused by viruses that do not make sense to take an antibiotic. 

Antibiotic in tablet form (Imago / Niehoff)Antibiotics only help bacteria, not viruses

By killing bacteria or inhibiting their growth, antibiotics support the body’s defence system. Among other things, they attack the cell wall or the metabolism of these microorganisms. Penicillins, for example, interfere with the bacterial cell wall synthesis. With a perforated cell wall, the pathogens are not viable and burst. However, all this only works with bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. 

On the other hand, the use of antibiotics makes sense if bacteria have entered the body through a weakened immune system and multiply there. This is how inflammation can be triggered and organs can be partially permanently damaged. Pneumonia, tonsillitis, bladder or meningitis are mostly caused by bacteria. The use of antibiotics makes sense here.

When should antibiotics be used?

This is how inflammation can be triggered and organs can be partially permanently damaged. Pneumonia, tonsillitis, bladder or meningitis are mostly caused by bacteria. The use of antibiotics makes sense here.

Differences between Ful and Cold

With a simple cold, the throat usually scratches first, the nose runs and then the cough begins. Real flu, on the other hand, suddenly knocks you out.

Do respirators protect against a virus infection?

Not really. Viruses cannot fly, and current coronaviruses are also transmitted by a droplet or smear infection.

Typical symptoms of the coronavirus

fever Cough (dry) difficulty in breathing muscle pain Fatigue/lack of energy less common symptoms: sputum, headache, coughing up blood, diarrhoea


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