Everyone is sick right now. 3 tables will help you figure out what ailment you've got.

Everyone is sick right now. 3 tables will help you figure out what ailment you've got.
  • There are tons of seasonal illnesses spreading around, not just flu, COVID, and RSV.

  • Many have overlapping symptoms, but there are a few telling ways to tease different ailments apart.

  • If you have a fever, plus a headache or cough, doctors recommend getting tested for flu and COVID.

The US is ill. Federal health data shows the country is currently red-hot with lots of fevers, sore throats, and coughs popping up from coast to coast.

Most of the sickness out there right now is flu. Wastewater surveillance also suggests COVID is on a post-Thanksgiving uptick, and RSV — which has been sending babies and toddlers to urgent care for months — is still circulating widely too.

But there are many other illnesses beyond the "tripledemic" of flu, COVID, and RSV which are contributing to this year's earlier-than-usual onslaught of seasonal yuckiness.

"There's a lot of viral junk out there," infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Insider.

Here are some of the most common culprits in action right now, according to infectious disease experts who are conducting viral testing at major medical centers across the US, as well as federal sickness watchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Other than taking a guess based on prevalence, it isn't so easy to tease out exactly which illness has made you sick.

"Fever, muscle aches, cough, headache, those are going to be common," Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of infectious disease at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, told Insider. "You really can't tell the difference between flu and COVID."

However, there are some telling symptoms that may help distinguish one illness from another. Paying attention to how quickly your illness evolves, and which symptoms are most prominent can help you take an educated stab at which seasonal illness you might have:


If you think you may have the flu or COVID, it can be worth getting tested. If you catch the infection early enough, antiviral treatments are available, which can shorten the course of your infection, and make it milder too.

"If people have fever or cough, headache, they really should get tested both for flu and COVID," Gulick said. This is especially important for older adults, who account for the vast majority of both COVID and flu deaths. "You've got to be seen and treated and diagnosed early."

However, if your illness is not flu or COVID, often there's not too much to be done, other than wait for your immune system to finish its fight, staying as comfortable and healthy as possible as you can in the meantime.

"Knowing that it's RSV is really not going to change anything that we do," pediatrician Manuela Murray, medical director of the Pediatric Urgent Care Centers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told Insider. "We really don't have any medications that help."

The same is true of many other viruses. For most of them, doctor's orders are to rest, hydrate, and take pain relievers and fever reducers to help ease your pain.


Read the original article on Insider