It’s that time of year again! Many children get sick during cold and flu season, as common childhood illnesses begin to spread around the community. But how can parents tell the difference between the common cold and a more serious illness like the flu? Keep reading for our guide on the differences (and similarities) between these 2 common winter illnesses.
- Symptoms – Symptoms of the common cold tend to be mild and typically include congestion, cough, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. A low-grade fever may also be present. With a cold, symptoms tend to last between 2 and 7 days.
- Diagnosis – Diagnosis of the common cold is typically made through process of elimination. A medical examination and thorough review of symptoms in combination with the flu, strep, and COVID-19 test should make it clear to medical providers and caregivers when you are dealing with the common cold.
- Treatment – While there is no cure for the common cold, the right amount of rest and home remedies can help alleviate symptoms and help your child get over their cold faster. Consider upping their dose of Vitamin C and other essential vitamins, make sure they are getting plenty of fluids, and give them OTC kid’s medicines such as Tylenol or Motrin when needed to alleviate symptoms.
- Symptoms – Flu symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headaches, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms are typically moderate to severe and last anywhere from 3 to 14 days. Influenza can turn serious or even deadly. Seek immediate medical attention in an emergency center if your child exhibits any of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, discoloration of the skin, extreme lethargy, signs of dehydration, or a fever higher than 103°F (102°F for longer than 2 days or if your child is under age 2).
- Diagnosis – Most urgent care centers, family doctors, and pediatricians carry flu tests. Your child’s doctor or local urgent care center may also perform a COVID-19 test or a strep test to ensure that your child’s symptoms aren’t due to one of these other common communicable diseases. The results of a flu test are typically available within minutes and are accurate 80-95% of the time. (Rapid flu tests may miss some cases of the flu, but false positives are rare.)
- Treatment – In most cases, treatment of the flu consists of rest, hydration, and other common remedies at home. Medications such as Tylenol and Motrin can help alleviate your child’s symptoms. Hospitalization may be necessary if the illness lingers or if complications (such as dehydration or pneumonia) occur. If your child is at high risk of complications, there is the potential for treatment with an antiviral drug such as Tamiflu or Relenza. These medications are most effective when taken within 48 hours of symptom onset, so be sure to call your child’s pediatrician right away if this is something you are interested in.
Whether your child is experiencing symptoms of the common cold or the flu, a visit to the doctor may be in order. Give us a call today for flu testing and treatment options.