COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With flu season here and the winter months approaching, doctors want to make sure people are staying healthy. One of those ways is by distinguishing a patient’s symptoms.

Is it COVID-19, the flu, or is it respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo at OhioHealth said one thing to note is that with COVID-19, patients often suffer a loss of taste and smell. While not everyone experiences that symptom, it is the most telltale sign of coronavirus infection.

A symptom to watch with the flu is how your body is responding or reacting and for how long those symptoms are present.

“It’s essentially feeling like you got hit with a truck,” Gastaldo said. “You can have a high fever with the flu, and you can develop viral pneumonia with influenza.”

The goal this time around is to keep hospital admissions low and keep as many as possible healthy.

Things people can do to help stay healthy are wearing a mask, socially distance, and get vaccinated.

Gastaldo reminds people that last year when mask mandates were in place, there was a minimum of reported flu and RSV cases, which he said shows those health measures are effective.

“We all need to be cognizant of those who are not vaccinated,” he says.

Even then, Gastaldo wants others to know that regardless of their vaccination status, it’s important to continue practicing these health measures.

“Until we get to lower levels of community transmission, mask-wearing should be done by everybody regardless of their vaccination status,” he said.

Though he’s unsure just how many flu cases will be diagnosed this year, Gastaldo knows they’re coming. An increase in RSV cases is an example of those infections coming back.

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms that most people recover from after a week or two. However, it can cause severe symptoms for infants and older adults.

If you’re still feeling unsure if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, Gastaldo recommends calling your primary care physician.