RSV, flu and COVID-19: How can you tell the difference? Here’s when to see a doctor, stay home amid tripledemic warnings

SAN FRANCISCO– Physicians are seeing several different viruses circulating in the community at an increasing rate.

The triple threat — or “triple disease” — of influenza (flu), COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) share many of the same symptoms, and it’s hard to tell which one you’ve caught.

We have with Dr. David Hoffman, a pediatrician at MarinHealth Medical Center, to share his insights on how to tell them apart and when to worry and when not to.

“While it’s impossible to know exactly which of these viruses you have without testing, there are some distinctive symptoms for each virus,” said Dr. hoffman

Here are some symptoms of each and a guide on what to do if you or a family member get sick.



The flu typically comes on very suddenly, with an incubation period of one to four days, in contrast to COVID-19, where symptoms tend to come on gradually. Typically, people feel unhappier with the flu than with other types of viruses, and often experience a sore throat, nausea, body aches, vomiting, or even diarrhea. A hallmark sign of the flu can be a very high fever — as high as 103 or 104 Fahrenheit. Fever is just one of the body’s ways of fighting the infection, and in and of itself it’s not dangerous.

dr Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said: “Hospitalizations for flu remain the highest we’ve seen at this time of year in a decade. If you do get sick, see your provider for early care. There are good antivirals to treat flu and COVID-19.”

The CDC is again suggesting that people voluntarily wear masks indoors to reduce their chances of getting sick in the next few weeks.

It’s not too late to get both vaccines – experts say that with a booster shot, you’ll start protecting within a week.

distinguishing feature

The most noticeable sign of the flu can be a very high fever in the 103-104 range.

Flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • Runny nose
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • Sore throat



“Coronavirus has become familiar to most of us and the signs are similar to those of flu and RSV. To complicate matters further, some people get very sick, while others have very mild symptoms, and others have no symptoms at all. While most people develop symptoms within the first week of exposure, symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.”

distinguishing feature

“Unlike other viruses, COVID-19 can affect other areas of the body outside of the lungs and in some cases have long-term effects,” says Dr. hoffman

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Short fever
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach pain
  • loss of taste or smell
  • traffic jam
  • fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • muscle or body pain
  • headache



RSV is a virus that many adults would have contracted, and it generally only causes common cold symptoms in adults. “If you think back to that cold you got that just wouldn’t go away, you kept having congestion and maybe a cough that lasted longer than usual, there’s a good chance it was RSV. And again, flu symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, runny nose or congestion, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and sore throat,” said Dr. Hoffman.

RSV causes a runny nose, congestion, and cough in most people. according to dr Hoffman, RSV is more likely to cause serious illness in very young children, particularly those born prematurely or those with lung or heart disease. The most noticeable symptom exhibited by some children infected with RSV is wheezing. Gasp is a high-pitched sound with each exhalation.

“For most people, and even most children, RSV does not cause a dangerous disease. But it does for a subset of children. Even children with serious illnesses that require hospitalization are usually fine. Maybe they need a little oxygen, maybe they just need to be watched closely. RSV is most likely causing significant or, you know, more worrying diseases in very young children and very old adults,” said Dr. Hoffman.

characteristic symptom

The most noticeable symptom exhibited by some children infected with RSV is wheezing, a high-pitched sound, with each exhalation.

RSV symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Fever
  • gasping

When to the doctor

dr Hoffman says you should see a doctor right away if you experience these symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • pain or pressure in your chest
  • New confusion
  • inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face
  • severe abdominal pain
  • refuse to eat and drink

When should I keep my child at home?

If your child is showing symptoms of RSV, flu or COVID-19, health experts advise keeping your child away from school to avoid spreading the virus to other people. It doesn’t matter which of the viruses is the culprit. Caution should be exercised to prevent spread.

Prevention: How to prevent your child from getting sick

Especially with these viruses, prevention is the best medicine. These suggestions are good ideas to avoid seasonal viruses:

  • Get your child vaccinated against influenza, COVID-19, pneumococcus, and whooping cough.
  • Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfect high-contact surfaces like desks, tables, and doorknobs when someone in your household is sick.
  • If your child is sick, keep them at home to avoid spreading the disease.

“Everyone talks about RSV but we also see other viruses in the community like metapneumovirus which can cause bronchitis or serious respiratory infections or viral pneumonia. There are thousands of viruses that we don’t have tests for, so we don’t do it. We don’t know exactly what virus it is, but we’re definitely seeing more of a lot of different respiratory infections,” said Dr. hoffman

He says the most important message he wants to convey to parents is that if you worry excessively, you can harm yourself a lot more.

“Therefore, by being anxious and increasing stress, you make yourself more susceptible to all kinds of illnesses, chronic illnesses and infections,” says Dr. hoffman

“Even so, I think everyone should be doing everything they can to protect themselves from all the respiratory and other vaccine-preventable diseases out there. He encouraged all pregnant mothers to get the whooping cough vaccine during their pregnancy to “cocoon” it. unborn child and prevent it by preventing themselves from getting whooping cough,” he says.

Similarly, he urged children to get vaccinated against pneumococcus (whooping cough).

“Get the COVID-19 and flu vaccine for children and adults. The flu vaccine may make you feel like you have a very mild cold, but that’s a lot better than getting seriously ill or even dying from the flu. So many people choose not to get the flu shot because they don’t like it. But the benefits really far outweigh the very small risks of the flu shot or the inconvenience of the flu shot,” said Dr. Hoffman.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to rush to your pediatrician’s office or your GP’s office just to get tested to find out which ones you have, apart from that maybe because most COVID-19 tests People who get RSV and flu and COVID-19 will be fine. So it’s really just a matter of dictating if you have to strictly isolate and for how long,” he said.

The fact is, these respiratory viruses tend to present with similar symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose, and fever. Luckily for most children, it doesn’t matter which of these or the thousands of other viruses that cause respiratory illness or the common cold your child has. Most children recover from all of these viruses on their own, without medical treatment and without serious complications. If your child is sick, you should first do a COVID-19 test to know if you need to isolate your child at home and for how long.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved. RSV, flu and COVID-19: How can you tell the difference? Here’s when to see a doctor, stay home amid tripledemic warnings

Alley Einstein is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button