Down with the bug? Use’s guide to find out if it’s Covid, flu or RSV

Down with the bug? Use’s guide to find out if it’s Covid, flu or RSV

Flu season is back with a vengeance this year.

After Covid wiped out most other respiratory illnesses in 2020 and 2021, better-known viruses are making a comeback this year at a rate officials haven’t seen in years.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes high levels of both influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this flu season.

Experts have described this wave as the worst the nation has faced since the 2009 swine flu epidemic.

Covid is also still going on. The US has an average of 49,070 infections per day and 274 deaths.

In Los Angeles, officials are even considering it the return of the mandate for indoor masks amid a recent surge in cases.

Each of these respiratory viruses share many symptoms and can easily be mistaken for one another.

But they also have unique symptoms that distinguish them from one another.

So, since all three diseases can affect people in similar ways, here’s a guide to tell you what’s really behind your runny nose, cough or aches.

The graph shows: Common (green tick), occasional (orange circle) and never (red cross) symptoms of colds, hay fever and Covid

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

The often-overlooked RSV took the US by storm this fall, circulating widely among children and causing full hospitals across the country.

The CDC reports that 15,843 Americans were infected with the virus during the week ending November 19.

It is most dangerous to young children, causing between 300 and 500 deaths each year according to the CDC.

A respiratory virus is also a danger for adults over 65, although less so than Covid or the flu.

A leading public agency reports that a runny nose, cough, sneezing and shortness of breath are typical symptoms of the virus.

While children will often also suffer from fever and loss of appetite when infected, these symptoms are less common in adults with symptomatic RSV cases.

Unlike other respiratory viruses, RSV does not come with significant stomach problems.

Symptoms such as loss of smell and taste, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting are usually unrelated to the condition.

People who suffer from gastrointestinal problems are probably suffering from another respiratory illness unrelated to Covid.

While a person suffering from RSV may sometimes experience aches or fatigue during the day, these symptoms are less common, according to officials.

In the most severe cases, a young child may suffer from inflammation of the small airways in the lungs – called bronchiolitis – or pneumonia – an infection of the lungs.


Los Angeles warns it could re-impose an indoor MASK MANDATE within weeks as Covid cases rise

Masks are poised to become mandatory indoors in Los Angeles in the coming weeks as Democratic officials panic over a spike in Covid cases.

The district’s Covid response policy says that after a period of ‘high’ Covid transmission, the mask mandate will be activated. In previous cases, the deadline was set at 14 days.

Los Angeles County is seeing 3,186 daily Covid infections, a large increase from the 1,000 daily cases reported in early November. It also records eight deaths every day.

dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for LA County, said Thursday that the locality is ranging from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’ transmission of Covid. If trends in cases and hospitalizations continue, they will reach a ‘high’ by next week, she warned.

“We would go back to saying that our health system is under stress, we have to slow transmission,” Dr Ferrer said during a press conference on Thursday.

She did not specify when exactly the masks would be returned, but previously set a deadline of two weeks.

‘We will have to look at the rate of increase and what we see in terms of that to decide what that timeframe is [to reinstate masks] it would be’, she added.

The Southern California county, home to nearly 10 million residents, only gave up wearing masks in March.

At the start of the pandemic, people were told to look out for three warning signs of Covid: loss of taste or smell, persistent cough and fever.

But as new variants were developed and vaccines and repeated waves reduced the threat of the virus, the official list of symptoms continued to grow.

Officials now recognize 12 symptoms associated with Covid.

According to the UK ZOE Symptom Monitoring Study, the most commonly reported signs of the virus are now runny nose (66 per cent), sore throat (65 per cent), headache (64 per cent), persistent cough (63 per cent) and fatigue (62 per cent).

But due to the range of symptoms and the high prevalence of the virus, Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from King’s College London, who led the study, encourages people to get tested anyway.

The virus is still circulating in America, but not nearly as fast as previous winters.

The country is recording around 50,000 infections per day, with half of the 100,000 recorded in early December 2021.

The most unique characteristic of Covid is the complete loss of smell or taste, known as anosmia, which rarely occurs with colds and hay fever.

Harvard University researchers published a study in July 2020 showing that the virus attacks the blood vessel cells and stem cells in the nose that energize the nerves that transmit the sense of smell to the brain.

However, Omicron is less likely to cause loss of taste or smell because the variant multiplies deeper in the lungs rather than the nose, according to experts.

Of the more recent symptoms listed for Covid, only diarrhea and nausea or vomiting are unique to the virus and not caused by RSV or the common cold.

He suggests that if you have these along with your cough, it could be Covid.

Officials are instructing people to stay home and avoid contact with other people if they have symptoms of Covid.


The common cold can affect people all year round, but is most common in winter.

Two years of quarantine reduced people’s immunity to colds. This has led to a flurry of colds across America this year, as experts warn that a ‘naive’ population is ripe for the virus to circulate.

The CDC reported 32,733 new flu cases during the week ending Nov. 26 — the highest total of the 2022 season.

A cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing are the most common symptoms caused by the hundreds of viruses that cause the common cold.

Pain, fever, headache, fatigue and loss of appetite can also be signs, while loss of taste or smell is also an occasional symptom.

The absence of puffy and puffy eyes may be a sign that you actually have a cold rather than seasonal allergies.

Meanwhile, diarrhea, nausea, or shortness of breath on top of the previous symptoms could mean it’s actually Covid and not a simple cold you have.

Symptoms occur when any of 200 different viruses cause inflammation of the membranes lining the nose and throat.

They are not actually caused by cold weather, but the body is more susceptible to infection when the immune system is weaker — which can be caused by a drop in temperature.

Marc Donovan, Chief Pharmacist at Boots UK told MailOnline: ‘Colds can still occur during the warmer months and usually involve sneezing and coughing, along with a sore throat, headache and sometimes loss of taste and smell.

“You might consider taking pain medication to relieve the pain or relieve a stuffy nose with a decongestant nasal spray or decongestant tablets.”

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