A high fever, bad cough, sore throat and chills can only mean one thing – your child has caught the flu. Or does it?
The common cold and influenza share many symptoms, so it can be difficult to decide when your child needs to visit your pediatrician.
KidsHealth has several ways for you to distinguish your child's symptoms. Use the chart below to determine if your child has a cold or the flu.
Do you have a cold or the flu?
|Medical Issue||Common Cold||Seasonal Flu||Stomach Flu|
|Cause||Different viruses||Influenza A or B virus||Virus or bacteria|
|Vomiting/diarrhea||No||Uncommon (more likely in kids)||Usually|
|Treatment||Consider staying at home to rest, hydrate, use OTC drugs||Stay home and rest, hydrate, use OTC drugs||Stay home and rest, replace lost fluids|
|Prevention||Wash hands, avoid contact with sick people||Get yearly flu shot, wash hands, avoid contact with sick people||Wash hands, wash fruits/veggies, cook seafood fully|
Common flu symptoms include muscle or body aches, runny or stuffy noses, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhea, coughing and sore throats. While fever is also a common symptom, not everyone who has the flu runs a fever. Common cold symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, but they are not as severe.
If your child has a cold, he or she should still have a normal appetite, no aches or chills and either no fever or a mild fever. If these symptoms become worse, however, it's time to call your doctor. Breathing difficulties, high fever, intense headaches and sore throats are all signs you should make an appointment with your pediatrician.
Talk to your doctor if you are ever unsure about your child's symptoms. It's better to be safe than risk your child getting worse.