DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Is it the flu, COVID-19, or something else? As we head into the winter months, more people might be getting sick; however, health leaders say there are some ways to know whether it is just a cold or something worse.

“The dry air in the winter dries out our nasal and other airway passages, and reduces our body’s ability to pretty much fight off bacteria. It gives them more of an entry into the body,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, Patient Safety Officer for Kettering Health Network.

On top of the flu and common cold, we are also in the middle of a global pandemic. So how can people determine if it is COVID-19 or something else? Charles Patterson, the Clark County Health Commissioner, said a fever is a major indicator.

“Between COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold, there are many similar symptoms, but we rarely see a fever with the common cold. Typically, that’s with influenza and then some of our COVID-19 cases as well,” Patterson said.

People might also experience body aches, chills, shortness of breath, and bad cough with the flu and COVID-19; however, that is typically not the case for a cold.

Dr. Weinstein said they also saw a rise in RSV cases, a common respiratory illness that usually affects children, but can affect adults, too.

“That can range from a very mild infection in children with common cold-type presentation, to pneumonia, and a much more severe illness that winds kids, and sometimes adults, up in the hospital,” Dr. Weinstein said.

Dr. Weinstein recommended mask wearing, getting vaccinated, and staying home if you are not feeling well to cut down on the spread of all illnesses this winter.

“We saw last year during the winter time, no flu, almost no flu, and that’s never happened. And the reason that happened is because a large portion of the population was wear a mask and social distancing,” Dr. Weinstein said.