Home/ News / India/  Fever, runny nose, sore throat could mean Flu, Covid-19 or RSV. Here's how to understand

As autumn is upon is, so is the plethora of seasonal infection which includes influenza, viral fever. To top that the Covid-19 pandemic with almost similar symptoms as influenza is not over yet. Bouts of cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat are all symptoms common to influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Covid-19. 

Here's looking at how to differentiate between these symptoms to understand what you might have 


Influenza can be detected within one day of contracting the flu virus. The symptoms of influenza manifest in the respiratory tract of the patient within the first two days of contracting the virus.

The symptoms escalate within the first 4-5 days if not treated immediately. The flu viruses are extremely contagious. The virus can spread from the infected person even before they see symptoms. They can spread the virus to people they come in contact with. 

Research has shown that patients who have underlying medical conditions and children can carry the illness for more than 10 days. If not detected on time, the flu virus can cause severe complications like pneumonia, dehydration, sinus/ear infections, and inflammation of tissues.

Symptoms include: High fever, cough, sore throat, nausea, body aches, vomiting, and diarrhoea. 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Children and elderly people are more vulnerable to the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also common during this season. Experts have stated that RSV virus incubates within 2-8 days, with an average of 5 days.

A study published in The Lancet showed that RSV was responsible for 1,00,000 children death who were under the age of five in the year 2019. For India the estimates were 53 per 1,000 children per year (5.3%). Further there were an approximate 61,86, 500 episodes of RSV-associated acute lower respiratory infection in children below five years.

Symptoms include: Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, high fever, and wheezing. Wheezing is one symptom that differentiates RSV from other viral illnesses.

The symptoms of RSV include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, high fever, and wheezing. Wheezing is one symptom that differentiates RSV from other viral illnesses. This wheezing can cause bronchiolitis or pneumonia if ignored. Children and people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses need to immediately visit a doctor when they face such symptoms or it might aggravate them.


While much has been discussed about the symptoms of Covid-19 in the past three years, it is to be noted that most of the early symptoms of Covid-19 are quite like the flu and RSV. Covid-19 is caused due to infection from coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

The incubation period of coronavirus ranges from 2-14 days. It takes three days on average before symptoms show up following exposure to the virus.

Symptoms include: Fever, cold, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhoea. Covid can also cause long-term effects, such as brain fog. The symptoms may change according to the Covid variant.

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Updated: 03 Nov 2022, 03:38 PM IST
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