How to Self-Assess your Illnesses

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, hospitals and physicians are becoming more crowded and overwhelming. As flu season approaches, it’s important to be able to distinguish the source of a cough or sore throat that show up in the coming months. The common cold, the flu, and COVID share some similarities between them, but the most significant differentiation factor is the severity of symptoms. AFC Urgent Care in Torrington offers information and resources on all illnesses you may have throughout the year. 

Common Cold

You can catch a cold at any point throughout the year, though it may feel like we get them more in the winter. The common cold has no vaccine, as it is continually changing and has very mild symptoms. The best way to avoid catching a cold is by frequently washing your hands and avoiding touching your mouth or nose. Symptoms of a cold are:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion

Colds typically last from a few days to a week and will go away on their own. You can treat any symptoms with OTC medications.

The flu

The flu is another virus that you can catch at any point, but people primarily get it in the fall and winter months, or “flu season.” Our clinic offers a flu shot that will help prevent you from getting the flu. On the chance you do catch the flu, the vaccine will help minimize your symptoms. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever, accompanied by chills
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Body aches/headache
  • Fatigue

The best way to know if you have the flu is by knowing when the symptoms started. Symptoms for the flu will begin about one to three days after exposure, but they usually come all at once. It is common to feel extremely tired all of a sudden when experiencing the flu. You should try and avoid contact with others for the duration of the flu, as it can remain contagious for multiple days after exposure. 


COVID-19 shares many of the same symptoms as the flu, so it is easy to confuse these two. There is currently no vaccine for COVID, and it is highly contagious. The only way to know for sure if you have COVID is by getting tested for it. Rapid tests are available at our clinic by appointment. Symptoms of COVID can include:

  • Fever, with or without chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste or smell

Symptoms for COVID can appear anywhere from 2 to 10 days after exposure. Many cases are asymptomatic or experience very mild symptoms. In more uncommon cases, hospitalization may be necessary. The best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from COVID is by washing your hands, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, and social distancing at least 6 feet from others.