BELL COUNTY, Texas — A man wakes up with a cough and a runny nose and is tempted to call in sick. He calls his doctor and asks "what am I sick with?"
"I don't know. What would you like to be sick with?" the doctor asks.
This is of course a joke. Doctors don't answer the phone.
But the fact is, that humans can now take their pick between the new Omicron variant, a cold, the flu, a previous COVID-19 variant, or cedar fever.
If you would like to know what you might actually have, keep reading.
Along with a headache, and fatigue, the above symptoms account for nearly all the above illnesses or allergies in some combination. The following guild will help break down how they differ.
The common cold
The common cold is your classic combination of a sore throat, headache, sneezing, and a runny nose. You should not have the shortness of breath associated with previous COVID-19 variants. You should not have the high fever you can get with the flu, though a low one is possible.
The Omicron variant
It's not particularly helpful that Omicron is often described as "like the common cold." It has a few less symptoms though. The CDC describes symptoms as "cough, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose." The CDC website does not, however, mention a sore throat, so that can be a deciding factor. It also doesn't mention "headache," but let's face it, it's easy to get a headache.
The flu generally comes with a high fever, a sore throat, and muscle or body aches. It should not typically result in shortness of breath or trouble breathing, which helps distinguish it from previous COVID-19 variants.
COVID-19 (Delta and previous variants)
Previous COVID-19 symptoms could include practically all the symptoms of the flu mentioned above and other not-fun flu symptoms such as chills, vomiting, and diarrhea.
As mentioned above, COVID-19 comes with shortness of breath or trouble breathing. It can also result in a new loss of taste or smell, which is a unique trait among these illnesses.
Cedar Fever is an allergic reaction to pollen and is not technically an illness, but it can still come with a cough and sore throat so it's on the list. It also normally comes with itchy or watery eyes, which helps distinguish it from all of the above. Finally, Cedar Fever rarely results in an actual "fever" even though that's in the name. Maybe "Cedar Sniffles" just isn't as catchy.
Learn more about the above illnesses here.