RSV Flu and Covid, Oh My! | Healthe Pediatrics


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RSV Flu and Covid, Oh My!

Kelly Ochoa, MD

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RSV and Flu will soon be making their debut, joining COVID-19 this winter causing fevers and cold symptoms. These three respiratory viruses cause very similar symptoms in children, and it is difficult to distinguish between them. Let me give you a brief overview on these three winter culprits.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is significantly worse in infants and toddlers than in older children and adults, as well as children with asthma. This virus causes coughing, wheezing, and fast, labored breathing in babies. Children do not necessarily have fevers with RSV. There is no treatment to kill the RSV virus. If a baby is having a difficult time breathing, sometimes the infant needs to be hospitalized to give oxygen and help him/her breathe easier. Inhalers for asthma, such as albuterol, do not help with wheezing from RSV unless there is an asthma component to the child’s breathing difficulties.

Influenza Virus

Influenza virus, “the flu”, usually causes high fevers and body aches. This is also a respiratory virus, so it will cause congestion and cough. Often, children will get tummy symptoms like vomiting with influenza, and can also get muscle aches all over. If given on the first or second day of illness, there are antivirals available that may shorten how long your child is sick by a day. However, many children get side effects to the medication that are often worse than any benefit. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be given to help children feel better until the child’s body fights off the virus.


Children of all ages can get and spread the contagious COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 can cause a very wide variety of viral symptoms. Fever and cough are the most frequent, but many children have headache, sore throat, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea as well. Although in general children seem to get less severe disease than adults, there is a complication of COVID-19 in children called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) that is very serious, which often presents with abdominal pain and prolonged fever. We all are hoping that the vaccine now available will be the beginning of the end of this virus. For more information on the vaccine, please see my Health-e Tips article on the COVID vaccine. Our knowledge about this novel virus is ever changing, as we are learning more every day. For updated information please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC websites.


March, 2021

We haven’t seen much RSV or Flu.

They never made this year’s debut.

Children got a break this winter, phew!

But I’ll leave the post here for your review.