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NBC4: Know The Difference

It is that time of the year, flu season. But what makes this year even more challenging is the similiarities between respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19 and flu. All three have some similarities and some stark differences.  So how do you know what you might have?  Joseph Gastaldo, MD, medical director of infectious diseases with OhioHealth talked with NBC4's Kenya Ramirez about how to differentiate your symptoms.

  • COVID-19: Dr. Gastaldo said COVID-19 can come with a loss of smell or taste. While it isn't in every single case, they do see if quite often.
  • FLU: With the flu, there is one thing that stands out above everything else: it completely wipes you out in many cases, and it doesn't go away for quite some time.
  • RSV: RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms that most people recover from after a week or two. However, it can cause severe symptoms for infants and older adults.

“(Flu) essentially feels like you got hit with a truck,” Dr. Gastaldo told NBC4. “You can have a high fever with the flu, and you can develop viral pneumonia with influenza.”

Vaccination has shown to be a great tool in both COVID-19 and the flu. While each of the vaccines aren't 100 percent for preventing either infection, they can lessen the impact.

“We all need to be cognizant of those who are not vaccinated,” Dr. Gastaldo said.

Dr. Gastaldo said that the key is to keep hospital admissions as low as possible. Things that can really help make that happen continue to be social distancing and masking in the right circumstances.

Gastaldo told NBC4 that there were minimum reports of flu and RSV last year when mask mandates were in place. He believes that data shows that masks can work.

“Until we get to lower levels of community transmission, mask-wearing should be done by everybody regardless of their vaccination status,” he said.

Testing can help you understand what you might be dealing with.  After you talk with your primary care physician concerning your symptoms, you can develop a plan for care, and if testing would be a good option for you.

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