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What’s the Difference Between RSV, the Flu and COVID-19?

what are the difference in symptoms of rsv the flu and covid?

RSV, flu and COVID-19 are all respiratory viruses. And they all have many symptoms in common such as coughing, runny nose and fever. So how do you know which virus you have? 

There are a few subtle differences between RSV, flu and COVID-19.

RSV Symptoms

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), is an incredibly common virus in small children. As with the flu and COVID, RSV symptoms include cough, runny nose and fever. However, one symptom unique to RSV is wheezing. A wheeze sounds like a whistle or rattle when your child breathes.

Most children recover from RSV on their own, but sometimes, it can lead to more severe illnesses. RSV can infect all ages but it is most serious for small children and older adults.

Flu Symptoms

Along with other respiratory symptoms like cough and runny nose, a unique symptom of the flu is that it often causes high fevers of 103 or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. People tend to feel physically worse from the flu as opposed to other respiratory viruses with ailments such as nausea, vomiting and body aches. 

As with RSV, small children are at a higher risk of complications from the flu. Don’t forget to get your flu shot! It’s the best way to protect yourself and others.

COVID Symptoms 

Symptoms of COVID are very similar to RSV and the flu. However, COVID can have a serious effect on body systems other than the lungs, and sometimes these can be long-term effects like brain fog.

Contrary to what you might hear, loss of taste and smell is not unique to COVID. In fact, this is common with many viruses including the flu and common cold. 

Is it RSV, Flu or COVID?

So how do you determine which virus you have? A good place to start is with an at-home COVID test to rule out that virus. 

If your symptoms are bad or persistent, visit your doctors. Many clinics have tests that can detect all three viruses at once. Contact us to request an appointment with a primary care physician today.