Dear Parents, we hope you and your family find this information useful!
Common Cold vs. the Flu
In Atlanta, Influenza (the Flu) typically hits in January or February, though increased Flu activity can happen anytime between September and March. Here are some tips to help you determine if your child has the Flu vs. a regular cold.
Both colds and Flu are caused by viruses. In general, viral illnesses are less serious than bacterial ones and we don’t have many specific medicines to treat viruses (antibiotics help fight bacteria, but not viruses). Flu is caused by the Influenza virus; colds are caused by a variety of viruses, including RSV (Respiratory Syncitial Virus). In addition, some people use “stomach Flu” to describe vomiting and diarrhea illnesses due to viruses, principally Rotavirus.
Children can have fevers with both colds and the Flu, though the fevers tend to be higher and last longer with Flu. Cough and runny nose occur with both. Generally, children with the Flu are sicker with muscle aches and fatigue. Infants and young children will be fussy and not eat well.
The key to managing Flu is to keep your child comfortable. While we are happy to see your child if you are worried, you can mange Flu at home if the temperature comes done with medicine, the child feels somewhat better when the temperature comes down and they are drinking enough to stay hydrated.
Treatment for colds is also based on your child’s comfort level. Fever reducers should be used if the temperature causes fussiness or discomfort. A cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom can help your child sleep better. You can also use the suction bulb/Nose Frieda to remove the mucous in younger infants (putting in saline drops before suctioning can loosen the mucous). For children 12 months and older you can use a spoonful of honey to help coat the throat and reduce irritation; cough drops or throat lozenges can be used if your child is old enough to avoid choking. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used at all for children under 2; we don’t recommend their use under age 6 due to ineffectiveness and the risk of side effects.