flus vs. colds: knowing the differenceWhen you are sneezing, coughing and your entire body is hurting, it can be a challenge to distinguish between a cold or the flu. A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu and comes with different symptoms. On average cold symptoms last for a few days while flu symptoms can linger from days to weeks.

Cold Symptoms: In most cases, a cold starts with a sore throat, but can also include a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, a cough and possibly a low grade fever. These symptoms last approximately a week. A cold is caused by a virus. During the first 3 days your child is sick, they are contagious. During this time frame it is especially important that your children cover their nose and cough when sneezing or coughing.

A cold usually comes on slowly with little to no fever and mild exhaustion. The illness typically lasts between 3 to 10 days. Typical complaints associated with colds are a stuffy nose and congestion. In younger children, you may notice a decreased appetite or frequent nose rubbing.

There is no medicine that can be prescribe to cure a cold, rather you can treat the symptoms. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be given to reduce discomfort. The best remedy for a cold is time along with plenty of rest and fluids.

Flu Symptoms: The flu can have symptoms very similar to a cold. The symptoms typically includes a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and a cough. The flu has a faster onset and is also accompanied by a high fever, exhaustion, chills and body aches. On average, the flu lasts between a week to 14 days, but in some cases the symptoms may linger for upwards of 3 weeks.

Caused by a specific virus, the flu is a viral infection that affects the nose sinuses and throat. A child who has fallen victim to the flu is often achy and uncomfortable. Many children will also experience a decreased appetite and more fussy and tired than normal.

If your child suffers from chronic medical conditions they may become much sicker with the flu. When your child falls victim to the illness, be sure they get extra rest and fluids. If your doctor prescribes a medication, they should take the prescribed dosage and finish the medicine.

If your child is plagued with the flu or a cold, our Chattanooga pediatric urgent care clinic is here to provide relief and comfort when your pediatrician’s office is closed for the day.