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Cold or Flu?

Cold or Flu?

Dr. Lou Romig

 

Determining if your child has the flu or a common cold can be hard to figure out. Cold and flu symptoms are similar. They are both respiratory illness but caused by different viruses. Colds are generally milder than the flu.

 

The answers to these questions below can help determine whether your child is fighting the flu or combating a cold:

 

Question
Flu
Cold
Was the onset of illness…
sudden?slow?
Does your child have a…
high fever?no or mild fever?
Is your child’s exhaustion level…
severe?mild?
Is your child’s head…
achy?headache-free?
Is your child’s appetite…
decreased?normal?
Are your child’s muscle…
achy?fine?
Does your child have…
chills?no chills?

 

 

When should you take your child to the doctor for the flu?

 

Otherwise healthy children with symptoms of the flu don’t absolutely have to be seen by a doctor unless they have symptoms like severe pain anywhere, the inability to stay hydrated or difficulty breathing. It’s always better to be conservative in seeking medical care, but parents may find themselves waiting for a long time in busy doctors’ offices, urgent care centers or ERs, only to find the provider may or may not test the child for the flu and may or may not prescribe Tamiflu.

 

Antibiotics should NOT be prescribed unless there are signs of a bacterial infection. All the Amoxicillin in the world will not cure the flu, because antibiotics don’t work on viruses.

 

Children with chronic illnesses, and especially those with immune system compromise, should be seen if they get flu-like symptoms because they may benefit from Tamiflu more than children who have no long-term medical problems.

 

Anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay home until they have had no fever for at least 24 hours. Kids should stay out of school and daycare. Adults should stay home from work or school.

 

One of the reasons the flu spreads so easily and quickly is that people don’t stay home while they’re sick. There are many good reasons why a family might need to a send a sick child to school or daycare, or a sick adult might have to go to work, but it’s in everyone’s best interests for people who are sick to stay home.

 

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