How to Tell if Your Child Has a Cold or the Flu

Published on: December 27, 2011

How to tell if your child has a cold or the fluHow can you tell whether your child has a bad cold or if it’s the flu? The main difference is that a cold is centered on the nose, whereas flu (influenza) causes the whole body to feel sick.

Most often, a cold starts slowly and causes mild fatigue, little or no fever, no headache or muscle aches, no chills and not much change in appetite. The flu often comes on quicker and makes your child very tired, bringing with it a fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and loss of appetite .

Most people with the flu do not require medical care or testing. Use the same judgement about going to the doctor or hospital that you normally do. When in doubt, call your child’s doctor.

If your child has a chronic health condition, flu can make them sicker. The doctor may want to test for flu, and will probably want to rule out other serious conditions, such as pneumonia or strep throat, which can be tricky to detect.

To learn more, call your child’s doctor, visit this cold and flu symptom guide or read the Seattle Children’s  flu flyer.

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