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ABC 7: Spot the Symptoms | Doctors Decode the Differences Between RSV, Flu and COVID

ABC 7 recently interviewed John Rodarte, MD, a pediatrician at Huntington Health, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai, about the differences between RSV, the flu and COVID-19—all of which can appear to be the common cold.

With so many respiratory viruses circulating right now, it can be tough to determine the cause of a cough or sniffles. Rodarte told ABC 7 that it’s important to notice when symptoms peak.

For RSV—which is most concerning in infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems—Rodarte explained what the illness looks like in young children. “They’ll be coughing, this just really dry, nonstop cough,” he told ABC 7. “It will look like a cold at first for the first three to four days. RSV peaks between day four to six so that’s what you’re watching for.”

Meanwhile, the flu comes on quickly.

“It tends to start out with a high fever, and you’re knocked down from the beginning,” Rodarte told ABC 7. “The headaches, the body aches, just feeling wiped out.”

And when it comes to COVID-19, he said, anything goes.

“COVID is really the big imitator, who knows what to expect with COVID?” Rodarte told ABC 7. “It can look a little like a cold, it can look like a stomach virus, it can look like a sore throat. That’s the one that can look like anything.”

The prescription for all of these viruses? Rest, stay hydrated and keep a close eye on how symptoms progress.

Click here to watch the complete segment from ABC 7.