A few months ago, Neil Patrick Harris, his husband, and their nine-year-old twins fell ill. But, as Harris explains in a new interview, he developed a tell-tale COVID-19 symptom that made it clear to him that it was likely the coronavirus.
“It happened very early [in the pandemic]like the end of March, the beginning of April. We did our best beforehand and I thought I had the flu and didn’t want to be paranoid, ”Harris said in an interview with today. “And then I lost my sense of taste and smell, which was a great indicator, so we holed up.”
Fortunately, he and his family now feel “great” and have recovered. “It wasn’t comfortable, but we did it and we have antibodies and we feel good,”
As Harris mentioned, there is some significant overlap between COVID-19 and classic flu symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For example, both diseases can cause a fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, headache, and a general feeling of tiredness or exhaustion, according to the CDC. But there are also some key differences. Although nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common COVID-19 symptom, these aren’t as common in adults with the flu. And while COVID-19 often causes shortness of breath, it tends to be a rarer, more severe symptom of the flu.
One big difference between the two is that the coronavirus, Harris learned, can also cause loss of taste or smell. In fact, research suggests that this symptom is one of the most common symptoms in people with mild COVID-19 attacks. For most people, this loss is temporary. However, research has shown that there are cases where people do not fully restore their sense of taste or smell for over a month after the coronavirus emerged.
COVID-19 isn’t the only viral disease that can cause this symptom. If you do this on your own, it is no guarantee that you are dealing specifically with the coronavirus. However, if you have this along with other coronavirus (or flu-like) symptoms, as well as possible exposure to other people with COVID-19, it is a sign that it is probably worth getting tested to see if you may have the Suffering from infection. “Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it can be difficult to tell the difference from symptoms alone, and tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis,” says the CDC.
Although Harris doesn’t mention whether he and his family were tested for COVID-19 during their infection, he does mention that they now have antibodies to the infection. The tests we now run for antibodies are not the most reliable, SELF previously stated, and generally should not be used on their own to determine if someone is still contagious or if they have protection against getting COVID-19 again.
Especially at the beginning of the flu season, it is important to do everything possible to protect yourself from both this and the coronavirus. Fortunately, many of the strategies we know today to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can also help keep us from spreading the flu, experts previously told SELF. That’s why it’s important to maintain social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently to keep you as healthy as possible this fall. And of course, get your flu vaccine.