Cold or Flu – Which One Does Your Child Have?

Both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Typically, the cold is milder than the flu and generally doesn’t result in serious health problems.

Sometimes it may be difficult to tell the difference between the two, but according the National Institutes of Health there are some obvious differences in symptoms.

Symptoms the cold and flu may have in common:

General aches & pains – colds sometimes have these, but they are common and often severe with the flu

Fatigue & weakness – colds are sometimes associated with this, but it usually occurs with the flu and can last up to 2-3 weeks

Stuffy nose & sneezing – common with colds and sometimes occurs with the flu

Sore throat – common with colds and sometimes occurs with the flu

Chest discomfort & cough – mild to moderate with a hack for colds, but can be more severe with the flu

Symptoms that are not shared by colds and flu’s:

Fevers – rare in colds, while usually occur with the flu (100°F-102°F, occasionally higher in younger children)

Headache – rare in colds, but common with the flu

Extreme Exhaustion – never occurs with colds, but it usually occurs with the flu, especially at the beginning of the illness

Complications of the cold vs. the flu:

The Cold – sinus congestion, middle ear infection, and asthma

The Flu – Bronchitis, pneumonia, and can be life threatening

If you think your child is suffering from the flu be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician right away.

If you’re still not sure, play it safe and talk to your child’s pediatrician.

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Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and National Institutes of Allergy & Infectious Diseases – September 2005.