COVID and flu are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Coronavirus can cause an infection in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat and most coronaviruses are not dangerous. However, coronavirus spread more easily than flu. Influenza or flu is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, nose, throat, and lungs.
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, so testing is essential to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. People can be infected with both flu and COVID-19 at the same time and can have symptoms of both. As per CDC, flu resulted in 9 to 41 million illnesses, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 to 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020.
This article covers all the significant topics related to COVID and flu tests such as the test cost, causes & symptoms of COVID and flu, risk factors, and how to get tested for a COVID and flu test.
- What is coronavirus?
- Causes of COVID-19
- Risk factors
- Symptoms of coronavirus
- Complications of COVID-19
- What is influenza (flu)?
- Causes of flu
- Who is at risk?
- Symptoms of flu
- COVID vs Flu
- COVID and Flu test
- Treatment for COVID and flu
- Provider locations
For readers who are interested in knowing the COVID and flu test cost beforehand, we begin with that section.
How much do the COVID and flu tests cost?
COVID and flu tests cost range around $149 in different labs and facilities across the U.S. No prior appointment is required. You may compare the price and order tests online, or visit the nearest lab during lab business hours. You will get the results in your email in 2-3 business days after completing the procedure. Doctor consultation is also available for any kind of medical advice or further treatment.
The following table shows the COVID and flu test provider and their prices. You can know more and book the test now by clicking on the “Book Now” button. All the labs are certified and offer a network across the US.
Name of our Partner Labs
Book Online at Offer Price
(Home Test Kit)
COVID and flu test cost with insurance
Many insurance companies in the U.S. cover all the vital tests. But the coverage offered by private health insurance companies and national health insurance programs like Medicare varies widely. Most of the health insurance policies cover COVID and flu test costs. However, you are recommended to check if your health insurance policy covers the COVID and flu test cost.
Our COVID and flu testing providers don’t accept any kind of health insurance policy. But they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details viz the name of the test, code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which can cause respiratory illness. Common cold, middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are examples of coronaviruses that cause illness in humans. As there were many crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus, they got their name as the corona. COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 is one of seven types of coronaviruses that can affect the upper respiratory tract – nose, sinuses, and throat or lower respiratory tract – lungs and windpipe. Mainly it is spread through person-to-person contact and the infections range from mild to deadly. Other types cause most of the colds but aren’t a serious threat for otherwise healthy people.
Causes of COVID-19
The virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person among those in close contact (within 6 feet, or 2 meters). It is possible for a person to get reinfected with the virus that causes COVID-19, or even get COVID-19 twice or more (uncommon).
- Research has shown that the virus can live in the air for up to 3 hours. When the infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, the droplets called aerosols carry the virus into the air from their nose or mouth. Any person within 6 feet of that infected person can breathe it into their lungs.
- The infection is transmitted when someone touches a surface or an object with the virus and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes. And this virus can live on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for 2 to 3 days.
- And can also be transmitted from someone who is infected but has no symptoms (asymptomatic).
Older people are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID, and the risk increases with age. People with existing medical conditions have a higher risk of serious illness. Certain medical conditions can increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
The chance of serious illness is higher when you have one of these health conditions:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Weakened immune system (because of organ transplant)
- Serious heart conditions (coronary artery disease or heart failure)
- Sickle cell disease
Conditions that lead to severe illness include:
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Type 1 diabetes
- Cystic fibrosis
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Symptoms of coronavirus
Symptoms of coronavirus appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Children have similar and usually milder symptoms compared to adults. People with severe medical conditions like heart, lung disease, or diabetes and older adults are at higher risk of more serious complications.
The most common symptoms can include:
- Loss of taste or smell
Other symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Pink eye or conjunctivitis
Complications of COVID-19
COVID-19 can lead to severe medical complications and leads to death in some people. Older adults and people with existing medical conditions are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Complications may include:
- Organ failure in several organs
- Heart problems
- Acute Respiratory Failure
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Blood clots
- Acute kidney injury
- Additional viral and bacterial infections
What is influenza (flu)?
Influenza or flu is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, lungs, nose, and throat. Millions of Americans get infected by the flu every year. This infection is highly contagious and occurs most often during the winter and it is easily spread from person to person. Most people feel sick for a week or two and then they recover. For some people, this infection can lead to serious lung infections.
As flu and the common cold have similar symptoms it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. Flu symptoms are more severe and can last longer than the common cold in most cases.
In the US, Influenza A and influenza B cause seasonal epidemics and elsewhere every winter. And usually, type C causes mild respiratory illness. Certain strains of influenza A, like the H5N1 bird flu virus, can occasionally infect humans, causing serious illness.
According to the CDC, it’s possible to transmit the flu to someone as early as 1 day before symptoms begin and up to 5 to 7 days after you become sick. It is primarily transmitted from person to person and when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, droplets from them become airborne. When these droplets come in contact with the nose or mouth, one can become sick too. It is also possible to get flu from handshakes, hugs, touching surfaces, and from objects contaminated with the virus. People with weakened immune systems and children can be contagious for a slightly longer time.
Who is at risk?
- Weakened immune system – Cancer treatments, blood cancer or HIV/AIDS, organ transplant anti-rejection drugs, long-term use of steroids can weaken the immune system. This condition can make it easier to catch the flu and increase the risk of developing complications.
- Chronic illnesses – Chronic conditions including lung diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, nervous system diseases, metabolic disorders, and kidney, liver, or blood disease may also increase the risk of flu complications.
- Age – Seasonal flu targets children 6 months to 5 years old, and adults 65 years old or older.
- Working conditions – Any person who works/lives in facilities with many other residents, like nursing homes or military barracks, is more likely to develop the infection. Apart from this people who are staying in the hospital also are at higher risk.
- Pregnancy – Pregnant women especially in their second and third trimesters are more likely to develop flu complications.
- Obesity – People more have an increased risk of flu complications when their body mass index is 40 or more.
- Aspirin use under age 19 – People younger than 19 years of age, who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy may develop Reye’s syndrome if infected with influenza.
Symptoms of flu
Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. It is important to note that flu is different from cold. And not everyone with influenza will have a fever. Some common symptoms of the flu may include:
- Chills and sweats
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Dry, persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Eye pain
- Loss of appetite.
- Vomiting & diarrhea (common in children than adults)
Usually, the flu isn’t serious in young and healthy people. Most people with the infection will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. However, as a result of the flu, some may develop complications that can be life-threatening and may result in death. But children and adults at higher risk develop complications that may include:
- Heart problems
- Ear infections
- Asthma flare-ups
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
COVID vs. Flu
COVID-19 and flu are highly contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu cannot turn into COVID and at the same time, COVID cannot turn into the flu. It is important to mention that it is possible to be infected with COVID and flu at the same time.
|COVID – 19||Flu|
|Symptoms onset||Initial the symptoms are milder and they develop gradually.||The flu symptoms are often sudden.|
|Incubation period||The incubation period ranges between 2 and 14 days.||The incubation period ranges between 1 to 4 days.|
|Severity||About 20 % of confirmed cases of COVID are severe or critical. Some may experience worsening respiratory symptoms in the second week of illness, on average after 8 days.||Typically, an uncomplicated case of the flu resolves in 3 to 7 days. Some may have coughs and fatigue that may last for 2 weeks or more. And only 1% of people with the flu are hospitalized.|
|Complications||A severe respiratory complication can occur.||As immunity is build up over time, complications are less likely to occur.|
COVID + Flu test
A sample of saliva or a shallow nasal swab sample is collected and placed in a sterile tube. And these samples will be sent to the laboratory for processing. A combination of viral RNA extraction & amplification and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is used by the laboratory to detect the COVID-19 virus and/or Influenza A and Influenza B virus if they are present. The only way to tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu is by getting tested.
Treatment for COVID and Flu
People who have been hospitalized for COVID or flu and people who are at higher risk of complications should receive supportive medical care to help relieve symptoms and complications.
- Flu – Prescription influenza antiviral drugs are FDA-approved for the treatment of flu.
- COVID-19 – The FDA has approved remdesivir to treat COVID-19. Additionally, FDA has also provided emergency use authorizations to allow healthcare providers to use investigational products that are not yet approved, or that are approved for other uses, to treat patients with COVID when certain legal requirements are met.
Apart from these treatments, it’s vitally important to rest up when you’re sick with any virus. And hydration is essential when you’re sick, it helps to ensure that your organs and muscles are working properly. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or cold-and-flu medicine may help ease your symptoms. But one must be sure to follow proper dosage instructions.
A COVID-19 vaccine will not protect a person against influenza and vice versa. As the viruses that cause COVID are completely different from the virus that causes flu, they require different vaccines to help build immunity to them. So, it is important to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza. A few simple steps can create a huge difference in keeping you healthy and curbing the spread of COVID-19 and the flu:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Keep wearing a mask in public
- Stay home when you’re sick
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the sleeve instead of hands
- Avoid close contact with infected people
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
COVID and Flu tests can be done in any of the following locations by visiting the lab near you. Refer to the first section of this article to know the COVID and flu test cost.
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover my testing cost?
No, insurance will not be covered in the billing. However, they will provide you with a receipt for insurance reimbursement purposes.
How should I book my appointment?
You can choose the most suitable provider from above and make an appointment by following the instructions mentioned by them.
Can I cancel my lab test order?
Yes, you can cancel your lab test order any time before your testing. A refund will be initiated after deducting the cancellation fee. However, cancellation is at the discretion of the provider.
Do the providers offer result interpretations?
Yes, a few providers may provide doctor consultation who will take you through the results and provide clarification if needed.
How do I receive my report?
To ensure your privacy, the test report will be mailed to you by the provider.
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