Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Do You Have COVID-19? Influenza? Or is it RSV? Here’s What to Look For

Image of Military personnel preparing a COVID-19 test sample for processing. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Emery, 30th Medical Group medical lab technician, prepares a COVID-19 test sample for processing April 8, 2021, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (Photo by: Michael Peterson, Space Launch Delta 30 ).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine | Coronavirus

Are you or a loved one not feeling well? Feverish? Starting to cough?

It's hard to know what it is. Is it COVID-19? The seasonal flu? Or is it respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV?

All three have similar symptoms, with fever being the most common. If you want to know for sure, you can check with your health care provider. These viruses could become severe in a short span of time, so starting on the right treatment can be important.

Below is a rundown of virus symptoms and potential risks.

COVID-19 Symptoms

The good news about COVID-19 vaccines is they are effective in reducing the chances of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, advises that getting a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot when eligible are the best tools to protect you and your family against COVID-19.

People with COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms that may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms are likely to include fever, cough, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, and possibly a temporary loss of smell and taste. The CDC published a full list of potential COVID-19 symptoms.

"COVID-19 infection usually starts in our head. It later affects our lungs and the rest of our body," said Dr. David Hrncir, medical director, Central Vaccine Safety Hub, Defense Health Agency-Immunization Healthcare Division.

Preliminary research has shown that the Omicron variant does not spread into the lungs as aggressively as the Delta variant, which was dominant in the United States until Omicron emerged.

People who have received COVID-19 vaccines can still experience COVID-19 infections that may have symptoms similar to the common cold or flu. Patients might need testing to help confirm a diagnosis.

To help you evaluate your symptoms, the CDC has a self-tracker tool that asks demographic questions and whether you have "life-threatening symptoms that may require urgent care."

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza - better known as the flu - is also circulating. The CDC warns that the flu usually comes on suddenly, and can be more dangerous than a common cold.

Military personnel holding the flu vaccine
Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), received their influenza vaccinations Nov. 8, 2021, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Medics assigned to HHBN administered shots to protect against the virus (Photo by: Army Sgt. Tanis Kilgore).

The flu virus can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death, even during mild flu seasons. Flu activity was unusually low last winter in the United States and globally, resulting in an estimated 22,000 U.S. deaths. That compares to 52,000 U.S. deaths during the 2018-2019 flu season, the last year for full reporting.

People who have the flu typically have some or all of the symptoms that the CDC lists on its site, including fever, cough, sore throat, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

The simultaneous surge of flu and COVID-19 cases nationwide is another important reason to get a flu vaccine to protect you. It is possible to get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which would increase the risk of severe illness.

"Decreasing the impact of influenza with your annual flu vaccine lessens the risk of having a co-infection of several viruses with all the unique symptoms from each viral infection impacting you at the same time," Hrncir said.

Vaccination for the flu is available at military medical treatment facilities, clinics, and at commercial pharmacies and doctors' offices.

People who are at a higher risk of flu complications include children, those over 65, and those with compromised immune systems. There are certain therapeutics that may help these risk groups.

CDC has an influenza web page that provides information on current trends in the disease.

Is It RSV?

A third threat this winter is the respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, which is a mostly seasonal contagious respiratory virus. It most frequently afflicts premature infants, and children under two years old with chronic heart or lung disease.

RSV can affect adults as well, especially those 65 older and those with compromised immune systems.

Fever is one of RSV's primary symptoms, along with runny nose, cough and a decrease in appetite. However, more serious symptoms of RSV like difficult or rapid breathing may require hospitalization. Watch out for these symptoms and seek medical care immediately.

Mild RSV typically resolves on its own. There is no vaccine to prevent RSV or specific medication to treat this virus. Recommended home treatments for children who show signs of RSV include fever reduction with over-the-counter medication; conservative nasal suctioning; and offering plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Otherwise healthy adults who get infected with RSV usually have mild or no symptoms. Symptoms are typically consistent with an upper respiratory tract infection. The disease usually lasts less than five days, according to the CDC.

During the winter cold and flu season, make sure you review the CDC's public health care precautions to take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

You also may be interested in...

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military Medical Units Support Civilian Hospitals Strained By COVID-19 Surge

Article
2/14/2022
Air Force Staff Sgt. Bradley Gorman, a medical technician assigned to a military medical team deployed to Yuma, Arizona performs a nasal swab at the Yuma Regional Medical Center’s COVID testing drive-thru in Yuma, Jan. 17, 2022.

Thousands of service members have been supporting civilian hospitals with testing, vaccinations and treatment of seriously ill patients.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

Video
2/9/2022
Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

CSM Gragg demonstrates how to use a COVID-19 at home rapid test.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Make Guidance for DOD Facilities

Infographic
2/3/2022
Make Guidance for DOD Facilities

Mask Guidance for Department of Defense Facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 35
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 24, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.