Is it Covid, flu or RSV? Chart compares differences in symptoms

It can be hard to determine if you have Covid, flu, or RSV as all three viruses circulate. This chart can help you compare their symptoms and onset times.

Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are together driving a national wave of respiratory illnesses.

Around 76% of U.S. hospital inpatient beds are full, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Pediatric beds are at a similar level, though six states have 90% or more of their pediatric beds full, according to an NBC News analysis of HHS data.

Covid, flu and RSV can be difficult to distinguish, since they share many common symptoms. But it's useful to know which virus you have, since that determines the treatments you should receive and how long you should isolate.

Certain hallmarks — either symptoms or how the illness progresses — can help differentiate each virus. Here are five factors to consider.

A runny nose, cough, congestion or sore throat can arise because of any of the three viruses or a common cold. But a loss of taste and smell is more commonly associated with Covid than with flu or RSV. And wheezing is often a tell-tale sign of a serious RSV infection, usually found in kids or older adults.

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Updated: 3 days ago
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