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Is it the flu, a cold, RSV or COVID?

These respiratory illnesses have overlapping symptoms, so it might be hard to identify what you’re dealing with. Don’t worry – we can help you identify your symptoms and get you back on track. Visit your health care provider or an urgent care near you and feel better soon.

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Child sick laying down while mom check its temperature

Respiratory illnesses

COVID-19 and the common cold are caused by different viruses, but are spread in similar ways. They also cause similar symptoms. Both usually include a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose. But, a headache is usually present with COVID, but rarely with a cold. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu: What are the differences?

Then there is Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes an infection in the lungs and respiratory tract. Symptoms in adults and older, healthy kids, are usually pretty mild and are much like the common cold. But in people with compromised immune systems or very young children, RSV can cause a severe infection. More about RSV in our health library.

Flu

You wake up with a sore throat and by afternoon you have aches and chills, your nose is running and you are exhausted. Is it the flu?

Common cold

You think it’s a cold … it isn’t your first one. But you don’t want to have something more serious, either. How do you know for sure?

RSV

You’ve heard about RSV, but aren’t really sure what it is. Your child woke up in the night with a low-grade fever. Is it serious?

COVID-19

This illness can mimic the flu, but what if you lost your smell or have digestive problems. You’ve been vaccinated. Should you test?