Dr. Nirav Shah gave some advice, this week, about what to do if you're not sure whether you have a cold or COVID-19.

I don't know about you, but this time of year, I never go anywhere without a box of tissues. I get those little travel packages and tuck them into every warm coat I own, along with a few cough drops. Colds are the norm for me, as the holidays approach. I expect that I'll probably have less problems, this year, because we're all disinfecting studios and using sanitizer. Still...the common cold always seems to find us.

But 2020 has brought a new issue to our usual self-diagnosis. COVID-19 symptoms mimic the common cold, with fever/chills, sore throat, congestion, and coughing. So when you wake up one morning and your throat hurts and your  nose is stuffed, how do you know if you just need to grab some decongestants or whether it's something much more dangerous?

Dr. Nirav Shah of the Maine CDC said, during Wednesday's press briefing, that the only real way to know is to get tested. Anyone showing those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and/or make an appointment to get tested, before infecting others. He said that labs across the state are showing increasing numbers of rhinovirus (also known as the common cold) because people are doing just that. And that's good. It's better to get the test and find out you just have a cold than to dismiss it as a cold and then find out you have COVID-19.

It was much easier in the Spring and Summer, according to Dr. Shah, because if you were showing symptoms, chances were very good that you had COVID-19. But cold and flu season are making it more of a guessing game. To protect others, he says, it's better to know for sure.