How to ID Common Kid Bugs   

RSV, Cold, COVID-19, Flu? How to ID Common Kid Bugs

Father sits with daughter who is sick while on conference call with physician. Cold flu or RSV

November 29, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Charita Csiky, M.D., FAAP

Even a small cough or sneeze from your child may have you wondering, do they have COVID-19?

Between RSV, colds, COVID-19 and the flu, it can sometimes be hard to determine one illness from another. We connected with pediatrician Charita Csiky, M.D. F.A.A.P to help us differentiate between these common kid bugs. 

Distinguishing Between Common Symptoms

The table below may provide general guidance for the differences in presentation of each viral illness. It is not intended for confirmation of the cause of each viral condition.The signs and symptoms of each viral illness may vary from child to child.

Kids Symptoms for Cold, Flu, RSV and COVID infographic

Should I get my child tested for COVID-19?

“Between RSV, the flu, COVID-19 and typical colds, by just looking at the symptoms it can be tough to determine what the illness is,” shares Dr. Csiky. “Since symptoms are somewhat ambiguous for COVID-19 in children, it’s important to get your child tested for COVID, even if the symptoms are presenting more mildly.” 

Even if symptoms are mild, it is important to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19, please get them tested, stay home and away from others until they recover, follow the local guidelines for isolation and of course consult with your pediatrician.

Should I keep my child home from school?

“If your child is exhibiting any symptoms of illness, you should keep them home from school and away from others until a negative COVID test is produced and their symptoms resolve,” Dr. Csiky adds. 

Importance of Flu, COVID-19 and RSV Vaccines

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu is the best way to protect you and your family from infection,” shares Dr. Csiky. "For the younger infants and children, a new RSV antibody injection is now available as well. Please consult with your pediatrician."

Children aged 6 months and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 and the influenza vaccinations. The RSV injection is now offered to newborns, young infants and toddlers meeting certain requirements.

“Stay vigilant; keep washing your hands, wear a mask and keep physical distance when possible. We will get through this cold, influenza, RSV and COVID season,” concludes Dr. Csiky.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Kids: Safety & What to Expect

COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in kids ages five and older in clinical trials. Here’s what parents should know.

How to Protect Your Child From Lead 

Exposure to lead can cause irreversible neurological damage, which is why all children should be tested. 

Twin Magic

Twin sisters Danielle Grant and Kim Abraham were born one minute apart. 

When to Seek Care for a Fever

A breakdown of when adults and children should seek care from a doctor if you have a fever.

A Recipe for Success

From the NICU to neurosurgery to speech therapy – this 5-year-old boy found all the ingredients he needed to thrive.

How and When To Get Rid of the Pacifier

If the “binky” helps your child fall asleep more easily at naptime or self-soothe during fussy moments, a pacifier can be a lifesaver during your baby's earliest months.

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.