Teaneck Public Schools News Article

Flu vs. Cold

cold or flu?

Cold and the Flu: How to Tell the Difference

Cold symptoms can look similar to flu symptoms in kids.  Parents can expect their kids to get colds every year, especially during the fall and winter months when the risk of flu is also higher. So, how can you tell if your child is having flu symptoms or just has the common cold? ??

Causes of cold and flu??
Viruses cause both the common cold and the flu. The common cold is also referred to as an upper respiratory infection or URI.  Several viruses can cause it, and testing is not typically done to diagnose. Influenza viruses cause the flu and there are several strains that circulate every year.  Testing may be used to determine if you have the flu.???

Cold symptoms vs flu symptoms
The common cold and flu share several symptoms including cough, sore throat and congestion. However, the severity and onset is usually different.  With a common cold, the symptoms usually come on gradually.  It typically starts with a sore throat and then progressing to cough, runny nose, and/or sneezing. Your child can also have a mild fever. The symptoms may last 3-10 days.?

With flu, the symptoms tend to come on rapidly and your child will look and feel more sick. They may complain of sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, weakness and feeling tired. Fevers may be high and your child could experience chills. Most children get better in a few days to 2 weeks. If your child has any trouble breathing, a change in skin color, is not able to drink fluids, has severe vomiting, appears very irritable, or their fever returns after a respite period, please see a doctor immediately as these could be signs of a more serious illness.

Cold vs flu treatment?
Keep your child well hydrated, have them blow their nose and rest as needed. Your child can continue to go to school if they do not have a fever.  Cough and cold medications can be used if recommended by your doctor.

If you think your child has the flu, keep them home from school.  Allow them to get plenty of rest and fluids.  If your child has any chronic conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, or appears very ill, contact your doctor.  If the flu is detected within the first 48 hours, there are medicines, which may help shorten the time your child is sick by 1-2 days.  Most of the time, your child will improve with fluids and rest. You may give fever/pain reducing medications as needed and recommended by your doctor.??


For both the common cold and?flu, preventative techniques include washing hands often, covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze, avoiding contact with those who are sick, and disinfecting surfaces.

The best way to prevent flu is to get the?flu vaccine. Flu?vaccines should be received?every year before the actual flu season starts so your body is prepared.  It takes about 2 weeks after the vaccine for your body to develop the antibodies.


Is My Child Too Sick for School?

There are some hard and fast rules that all parents and guardians should stick to when it comes to illness and keeping your children at home. If your child has any of the following symptoms, it is time to let the school know they will be absent:

=         Fever (must be fever free for 24 hours without medication before going back to school)

=         Nausea and vomiting

=         Diarrhea

=         A rough night (for example, if your child was up all night coughing or having trouble breathing)

=         Listlessness, lethargy

=         No appetite

=         Pink eye

=         Your child does not seem to be acting their normal self

=         Rashes not caused by a known issue such as eczema or irritation from a new product such as laundry detergent or lotion.

If your child is staying home from school, it does not necessarily mean that you must take them to the doctor. Many childhood illnesses can resolve with fever-reducing medications (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) and rest. However, if your child shows any of the following symptoms, you should call your pediatrician:

=         Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than a few hours

=         Any cold or cough that doesn't go away after six or seven days — or if your child's cold worsens and he develops a fever

=         Ear pain with a fever, or drainage leaking from the ear

=         Sharp and persistent stomach or abdominal pains

=         Severe sore throat

=         Blood in urine or diarrhea

=         No fluids in more than 24 hours

Simple stuffy noses or coughs do not stop many children from enjoying and participating fully in school activities.  If your child is congested or has a sore throat but is still active in the morning and able to get ready, it is a good sign that they can handle the school day.

This is not a comprehensive list of symptoms. When in doubt, please consult your child’s pediatrician.


Print This Article