Flu vs RSV: A Comprehensive Introduction to Two Common Viral Infections

October 1, 2023

Two individuals with bandaids on their arms because they got vaccinated for the flu at AFC Urgent Care Norwalk

It's crucial to prepare for some unwelcome guests in these upcoming seasons like the flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). While both these infections share common symptoms like cough, fever, and runny nose, their epidemiology, risk factors, and potential complications differ. AFC Urgent Care Norwalk is here as your friendly partner, committed to equipping you and your family with the knowledge and tools you need. Our mission is to provide you with an easy-to-understand guide to these illnesses and how to prevent them this season.

Is It The Flu Or RSV?

Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that invade and infect the respiratory system, including the nasal passages, throat, and lungs. Some individuals, notably those aged 65 and older, young children, and individuals with specific health conditions, face an elevated risk of severe complications stemming from the flu.

Influenza (flu) viruses fall into two primary categories: types A and B. These human influenza viruses, including both types A and B, consistently circulate among the population and are responsible for the annual occurrence of seasonal flu epidemics.

Common symptoms associated with the flu may include:

  • Elevated fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue

While most individuals recover from the flu, it can lead to severe complications, especially among those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Is Just As Bad As The Flu

Respiratory syncytial virus, often abbreviated as RSV, is a prevalent respiratory virus known to induce mild symptoms resembling those of a common cold. The majority of infected individuals recover within one to two weeks, but RSV can pose a significant threat. Infants and elderly adults are more susceptible to developing severe RSV symptoms, occasionally necessitating hospitalization. Vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV, and monoclonal antibody products are accessible to safeguard infants and young children from severe RSV.

Common symptoms associated with RSV may include:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Fever
  • Respiratory difficulties

In severe cases, RSV can lead to respiratory distress, particularly in infants and the elderly.

Preventing the Flu and Testing For RSV

For the Flu:

  • To minimize the risk of contracting the flu, the CDC strongly recommends receiving an annual flu vaccine as the primary and most critical preventive measure against influenza viruses.
  • It is advisable for all individuals aged 6 months and older to obtain an annual flu vaccine, with the ideal timing being before the end of October.
  • Also please note that we also offer “fluzone” high dose flu shots for seniors and  those 65 and up.
  • To further prevent the spread of the flu, it is recommended to avoid close contact with individuals currently experiencing illness.
  • If you become unwell, it's essential to reduce contact with others as much as possible to prevent the transmission of the virus

Furthermore, practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette is vital.

In cases of the flu, the CDC advises individuals to stay home for a minimum of 24 hours after their fever has subsided.

For RSV:

  • To protect infants during their initial RSV season, the CDC recommends that all children under 8 months of age receive nirsevimab.
  • Consider undergoing a Nasal swab RSV test at AFC Urgent Care Norwalk.
  • An RSV vaccine is available to shield adults aged 60 years and older from RSV disease. This age group is at greater risk of severe RSV-related complications due to the gradual weakening of their immune systems. Although we do not offer the RSV vaccine at AFC, you can check with your primary care or local pharmacy for vaccine options.

When coughing or sneezing, it's important to use a tissue or your shirt sleeve as a safeguard rather than your hands.

AFC Urgent Care Norwalk: An Urgent Care You Can Trust For Flu Shots And RSV Testing

When in doubt, get tested for RSV at AFC Urgent Care Norwalk. We offer a viral nasal swab test so you can have peace of mind this winter.  Our commitment to your convenience encompasses accessible 7-day availability, flexible walk-in and appointment scheduling, and an effortless online payment system.

Staying informed and proactive in your healthcare journey is pivotal in the battle against the flu and RSV. And while you’re at it, you can also get vaccinated for the flu to protect against that, too! Again, we also offer “fluzone” high dose flu shots for seniors and  those 65 and up.

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