How to Know if You Have COVID, RSV, or the Flu and How to Treat Them

February 3, 2023 by Alex Gnatko

The winter brings an influx of unpleasant illnesses – cough, runny nose, congestion, fever, body aches, and more. If you’re feeling sick with some of these symptoms this season and questioning the next steps to take… you are not alone!

After years of being hyper-aware of Covid-19, experiencing even mild symptoms can feel scary and confusing. Markers of Covid, the Flu, and RSV can all overlap, leaving many unsure of what’s causing suffering, its severity, and most importantly, how to feel better faster.

In determining what your symptoms mean, it’s helpful to know how these three illnesses differ.

Covid, RSV, and the Flu: What’s the Difference?

Covid, RSV, and the Flu are each highly contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses, and all of them have sent both adults and children to emergency rooms this winter. If you’re feeling sick, it’s possible to make an educated guess about which illness you may have. Of course, seeing a medical professional will provide the most informed answers.

When you start to feel sick, you can assess your symptoms in a few ways:

First, take note of which symptoms you experience, how suddenly they appear, and how quickly they worsen. Even with all three viruses sharing common symptoms, pay attention to these key factors.

Influenza or “The Flu”

  • The Flu comes on suddenly, sometimes only one day after exposure.
  • People often describe feeling the infection in their entire body like they’ve been “hit by a truck.”
  • High fevers up to 103 or 104 degrees.
  • Fatigue and achiness are common.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea may occur, most frequently in children.
  • Shortness of breath is not usually a symptom.
  • For more information, see our recent blog post on this season’s Flu.

Covid and RSV:

  • Symptoms take longer to develop, on average, 5-6 days.
  • Symptoms build gradually. You may have a runny nose one day, a cough the next, and a fever the following day.
  • Both illnesses could present mild fevers.
  • Shortness of breath and trouble breathing can occur in both.
  • Nausea and lack of appetite are present more often in RSV.
  • RSV provides an especially high risk to infants. Read our most recent post about RSV for information about infants and children.

You will notice that RSV and Covid share many common symptoms, and it can be hard to differentiate between them based on symptoms alone. To be sure, visit your local urgent care for Covid, RSV, or Flu testing.

Also, consider which illnesses are prevalent in your geographic area. For example, if the Flu is rampant in your county, but numbers are low in RSV and Covid, you may be more likely to have the Flu. Of course, diagnosing your illness by visiting a medical professional is the safest, most accurate option.

How We Can Help

If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with Covid, RSV, or the Flu, visit Lincoln Urgent Care or Granite Bay Urgent Care for testing and treatment options. You can schedule a Covid test online or call either facility for an appointment:

Lincoln Urgent Care (916) 258-2751

Granite Bay Urgent Care (916) 570-7265

It’s also a great time to get your annual Flu shot and vaccinations to keep you healthy this season.


Lincoln Urgent Care and Granite Bay Urgent Care are full-service urgent care centers with onsite x-ray and laboratory testing. Our team is dedicated to providing patients with affordable and timely care for their urgent care needs.

Lincoln Urgent Care
77 Lincoln Boulevard Suite 1
Lincoln, CA 95648
Phone: (916) 258-2751
Fax: (916) 258-7172

Granite Bay Urgent Care
5290 Douglas Blvd
Suite 102
Granite Bay, CA 95746
Phone: (916) 570-7265
Fax: (916) 200-2412

As your trusted urgent care clinic, we would like to notify our patients about the Open Payments database put in place by the Medical Board of California as of January 1, 2024.

The federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires that detailed information about payment and other payments of value worth over ten dollars ($10) from manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologics to physicians and teaching hospitals be made available to the public.

The Open Payments database is a national transparency program that collects and publishes information about financial relationships between drug and medical device companies and certain healthcare providers.

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