Question: Your child develops fever, cough along with sore throat; could it be just a Simple viral infection like common cold? Or is it Flu?
Answer: It is not easy to differentiate between two of them. Symptoms are more or less the same, although Flu like symptoms can be severe.
Differentiating features on the basis of Symptoms are:
|Questions to ask||Cold||Flu|
|Onset of illness||Slow||Sudden|
|Intensity of fever||No fever or mild fever||High fever|
|Appetite (oral intake)||Normal/ slightly decreased||Significantly decreased|
|Body ache/Headache/muscular Pain||No||Yes|
|Chills (Shivering)||No chills||Yes|
|Difficulty in breathing||No||Yes, in severe cases|
|Decreased Urine output||No||Yes, in severe cases|
This is just a rough guide; a thorough check up a child specialist will help in reaching a diagnosis.
Symptoms can change as the disease progresses. So it is important to know the general danger signs which if present should be reported to your child doctor immediately. These are:
- Poor oral intake
- Baby did not pass urine for last 8- 10 hours.
- Loss of consciousness/ Drowsy/ sleepy most of the time
- Difficulty in breathing/ Retractions in chest wall during breathing
- Severe and persistent headache
Other possible causes of illness should also be ruled out like bacterial infections, Pneumonia etc.
While even healthy kids can have complications of the flu, kids with certain medical conditions are at more of a risk. If you think your kid might have the flu, contact your doctor.
Most of the cases of Flu can be managed at home by offering plenty of fluid to child along with adequate rest and avoiding crowded places.
Some children might develop serious illnesses for which child might need hospitalization and antiviral medications like tamiflu to ease flu like symptoms (but for best results it should be started within 48 hours of development of symptoms; which is practically difficult).
Vaccination (Annual Flu shot) can be given to all the people every year to prevent spread of serious illness.
Dr Rahul Varma