Cold and flu season comes around every year like clockwork. Some seasons are milder than others, but either way, being sick is never any fun – especially for kids.
It can be tough to tell if your child has a cold or the flu at first, because the flu can look a lot like a cold in the beginning. The best way to protect your child is to get him a flu shot before the season starts.
If your child suddenly falls ill, it can be tricky to know whether they have a cold or the flu. However, there are several symptoms that can help you tell the difference between the two. With a cold, your child will usually have a sore throat and runny nose, as well as a cough. They may or may not also have a fever.
The flu, on the other hand, hits fast and hard. Symptoms include a sore throat, cough, and muscle aches. The key difference is that the flu also comes with fatigue and a high fever. Signs of a high fever to watch out for include lethargy, chills, faster breathing, headaches, and in some cases hallucinations.
Usually, when a child is mildly ill, he can be cared for at home. However, there are some warning signs that it’s time to take him to the doctor. For example, a cold associated with ear pain could mean there’s an ear infection.
Other symptoms that should be considered include a fever that is higher than 101 or does not go away, chest pain, raspy breath or trouble breathing. If your child is vomiting and unable to keep food or liquid down, he could be at risk of dehydration and should be seen by a doctor.
There’s a checklist you can use to help care for your child when he’s sick with a cold or flu. If a fever is present, you can give him a lukewarm bath. If your child has a fever, never put him in a cold bath. Fever can help the body kill the germs causing the illness, but it can make a child feel pretty miserable. You can use a fever-lowering drug like acetaminophen to help your child feel more comfortable.
If your child has a cough, you can use a cough suppressant – but only if it’s age appropriate. Give your child plenty of fluids in the form of water, Jell-O, or Popsicles. Also, make sure he has some chicken soup, because it’ll help him stay hydrated and chicken soup does have anti-inflammatory properties.