Whether at work, school, or out and about, you have probably heard someone who is stuffy and coughing. This year the culprit may be one of three things. You may have heard it referred to as the “tripledemic.”

Dr. Suprina Dorai of Ally Medical Emergency Room joined Studio 512 Co-Host Stephanie Gilbert to tell us more.

Can you tell us more about RSV, Flu, and COVID and if it is really a new pandemic?

“The latest data from CDC’s interactive online application, FluView, demonstrates Texas’s “very high” levels of influenza-like illnesses (ILI), putting our state among the top in the nation for activity levels.”

“The CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker shows Texas COVID infections rising, but overall, the community levels for the majority of the state are still considered low.”

“Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV typically occurs during late fall, winter, and early spring. The CDC tracks RSV on a national, regional, and state level and has seen the number of confirmed RSV cases on the rise since September.”

“While we typically see the number of respiratory virus cases rise this time of year, this particular flu and RSV season has been higher than normal. With the addition of increasing COVID-19 cases, we have additional pressures on our healthcare system.”

What are the differences between RSV, Flu, and COVID?

“RSV, flu, and COVID-19 are respiratory viruses. These viruses affect your respiratory system — the network of tissues and organs that help you breathe.”

“Cough, runny nose, and fever are common to all respiratory viruses. We usually must rely on a laboratory test to make an accurate diagnosis.”

Subtle differences between RSV, flu, and COVID-19

RSV

“RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a virus nearly all children get by age 2. In addition to a cough, runny nose, and fever, a unique symptom of RSV is wheezing. A wheeze sounds like a whistle or a rattle when your child breathes.”

Most children recover from RSV on their own, but sometimes, it can lead to severe illnesses such as:

  • Bronchiolitis — the swelling of the small airways in your child’s lungs
  • Pneumonia — an infection of your child’s lungs

“RSV can infect people of any age but is most serious for young children and older adults. Hospitals admit nearly 60,000 children under age 5 for RSV every year.”

Flu

“A distinctive sign of the flu is a very high fever. Along with other respiratory symptoms, the flu often causes high fevers of 103 or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Flu can include nausea and vomiting as well, which, though not unique to the flu, is also often worse than with other viruses.”

“Children under age 5, and especially those under age 2, are at higher risk of complications from the flu.”

These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Inflammation of their heart, brain or muscle tissues
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus and ear infections

“Each year, between 7,000 and 26,000 children develop symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization.”

COVID-19

“The signs of COVID-19 are similar to flu and RSV. But unlike other viruses, COVID-19 can have a serious effect on body systems outside the lungs. While another respiratory virus can do this too, COVID can cause long-term effects, such as brain fog.”

“Several symptoms you may think are unique to COVID-19 are actually common among respiratory viruses.”

For example:

Loss of taste and smell: Many viruses, including those that cause the common cold and flu, can affect your sense of taste and smell.

Vomiting and diarrhea: Up to 30% of children with respiratory viruses have gastrointestinal symptoms.

When/how should you test at home?

“Each of these viruses is potentially more severe in the very young or very old or those with pre-existing conditions.”

“We all know about at-home rapid COVID tests, and PCR tests that are sent to a lab can confirm Covid, Flu, or RSV.”

“Testing at home can help with early detection and in case of flu, you may have the option to take Tamiflu to reduce the duration of your symptoms, and of course with a confirmation of any virus, you can isolate to reduce the spread of the disease.”

When should you go to the doctor?

“As with any respiratory infection you should call a doctor immediately if you have trouble breathing, experience severe vomiting and diarrhea to a point where you are no longer able to eat or drink or if your symptoms aren’t improving or getting worse after five days.”

“With the strain on hospitals and doctors increasing this winter, having an option like Ally Medical can not only save you time but can provide you with expert care.”

“Ally Medical operates five freestanding emergency rooms in Texas with locations in Bastrop, South and Central Austin, Clear Lake, Round Rock, and Spring.”

“There are no appointments needed, and patients may come in any time, day or night, with little or no waiting. Each Ally Medical Emergency Room is equipped to treat both minor and major medical emergencies for children and adults of all ages in a safe, stress-free setting.”

“If you can’t get in to see your primary care physician or don’t have one, visit Ally Medical to experience our re-envisioned medical care. We hope you don’t need it, but our promise to patients is simple: More caring and less waiting.”

If you or someone you know needs to be tested or to learn more about Ally Medical and their four Austin area locations, go to AllyMedical.com.

This segment is paid for by Ally Medical Emergency Room and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.