Is it flu, RSV or Covid? A parent's guide to three deadly viruses surging right now | The Sun

Is it flu, RSV or Covid? A parent's guide to three deadly viruses surging right now | The Sun

ASthe temperature begins to drop and we head indoors, a handful of deadly respiratory viruses are spreading at very high levels.

Thanks to several lockdowns over the last few winters, immunity among the population is low meaning kids are more at risk of catching these illnesses.

Cases of both flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among kids are surging, according to recent data.

Covid cases are declining in kids, and experts believe hospitalisations have peaked – but virus continues to circulate at high levels.

Most kids should recover on their own from infections of flu, RSV or Covid, especially with lots of rest, sleep and fluids.

But some, including very young kids and those with underlying lung issues, may need additional care.

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Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for if your child has a respiratory virus.

Is it RSV, flu or Covid-19?

RSV, flu and Covid are respiratory viruses.

These viruses affect your respiratory system — the network of tissues and organs that help you breathe.

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This means they can affect you in the same way and leave you with the similar symptoms such as a cough, runny nose and fever.

However, they are some very subtle differences between the three viruses.

Symptoms unique to RSV

RSV is a very common virus and almost all children are infected with it by the time they are two years old.

A common symptom, unique to the virus is wheezing – which sounds like a whistle or rattle when your child breathes.

RSV causes around 83 deaths per year in children and adolescents, the majority in infants, according to the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Some children under two, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can suffer more serious consequences.

It's important to remember that most children recover from RSV on their own, but sometimes, it can lead to severe illnesses such as:

  • Bronchiolitis – swelling of the small airways in your child’s lungs
  • Pneumonia – an infection of your child’s lungs

Symptoms unique to flu

A clear sign of flu is a high fever (anything over 39 degrees Celsius).

A high temperature had previously been a symptom of Covid, but the experts said that this is less likely with the Omicron strain.

Children under age 5, and especially under age 2, are at higher risk of complications from the flu. These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Inflammation of their heart, brain or muscle tissues
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus and ear infections

Symptoms unique to Covid

As the virus continues to change and new variants emerge, the list of Covid symptoms is often changing.

Currently, Omicron is the main strain circulating, which has been proven to be milder than others that came before it.

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However, specialists have warned that there could be a collection of three substrains that all circulate together this winter.

The most recent data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app states thatloss of smell, taste and a dizzy light head are both common symptoms – both of which are unique to the virus.

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