It’s that time of year for runny noses, scratchy throats and constant sneezing. The all-too familiar cold symptoms — you can’t miss them.
It’s also that time of year when flu season peaks. Though influenza activity often begins to increase in October, it peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though different viruses cause them, the flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses and share similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell them apart. Many parents are left wondering, does my child have the flu or a cold?
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold and symptoms are more intense. In fact, the flu can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia. A big difference between the viruses is that a cold will most likely not give your child a high fever and body aches.
The rate at which symptoms appear is another strong differentiating factor. Colds normally develop slowly over a few days, whereas the flu symptoms can come on suddenly. Also, severe symptoms from the flu normally subside in about 3 days, whereas cold symptoms can last 7 to 10 days.
The chart below lists typical symptoms for the flu and common cold. Taking stock of symptoms and how long they last will help you determine what’s causing your child trouble.
If you think your child is suffering from the flu, schedule an appointment with her pediatrician to be evaluated.