Is it the flu or a cold?
It's that season when sniffles, fevers, aches and pains may get you down. To recover as quickly as possible and prevent serious complications, it's important to know what's causing the illness. Is it a simple cold or the flu? And what should you do?
They are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Because of their similarities it is often difficult to tell the difference.
The following shows the difference between the two.
Cough: Hacky, productive, dry
Stuffy nose: Common
Sore throat: Common
Chest: Mild discomfort
Onset: Over several days rapidly, over 3-6 hours
Fever: Usually with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher for 3-4 days
Tiredness: Moderate to severe
Headaches: Very common
Chills: Common in over 50% of cases
Cough: Non productive
Stuffy nose Uncommon
Sneezing: Not common
Sore throat: Not common
Chest: Severe discomfort
Treatment: is very similar for both the flu and colds.
- stay home to prevent the spread of the illness. Keep your sick child home.
- get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Over-the-counter medications can treat the symptoms. But never give children aspirin.
- Anti-viral medication will actually treat the flu, not just the symptoms, which can lessen the severity and length of illness. This type of medication won't rid you of a cold.
If your child is ill and has trouble breathing, is breathing faster than normal, not drinking fluids, has bluish skin color, is irritable beyond comfort, has a rash or is difficult to wake up or engage, you need to seek immediate attention. Also, if their symptoms improve then return with fever and cough, seek urgent medical care.
CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.
Keep in mind that vaccination is especially important for certain people who are high risk or who are in close contact with high risk persons.
Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to make sure everyone around them gets vaccinated.