Flu and Cold Season is Here – Do You Know the Difference?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends annual flu immunizations to all Children, both healthy and with high-risk conditions, ages 6 months through 18 years. This year the recommendation includes all school-age children, since this population has the greatest incidence of disease. The goal is to reduce influenza among school-aged children, in order to minimize transmission to household contact and to the community.
We often think of Influenza as "just a mild viral illness", but the truth is the flu virus causes a number of complications every year, including increased risk of hospitalizations for those younger than 2 years of age. How can we tell the difference between Influenza infection and the common cold? YouR doctor can decide by examining the child; there are also Rapid Flu tests that can be performed in the office to confirm suspected cases.
Here are some of the main differences to help you decide if your child's symptoms are consistent with the flu.
Signs and Symptoms
- Onset: Flu, Sudden; Cold, Gradual
- Cough: Flu, Dry-can be severe; Cold, Hacking-mild
- Headache: Flu, Prominent; Cold, Rare
- Muscle / joint pain: Flu, Usual -often severe; Cold, Slight
- Fatigue and weakness: Flu, Can last up to 2 weeks; Cold, Very mild
- Extreme exhaustion: Flu, Early and prominent ; Cold, Never
- Chest discomfort: Flu, Common; Cold, Mild / Moderate
- Stuffy nose: Flu, Sometimes; Cold, Common
- Sneezing: Flu, Sometimes; Cold, Usually
- Sore throat: Flu, Sometimes; Cold, Common
- Fever: Flu, Common-lasts 3-4 days; Cold, Rare
There are two vaccines currently available to prevent flu. One is given by injection, and it is made from killed viral particles. The other is a live-attenuated virus vaccine and it is given in a nasal spray form.
Children younger than 9 years who get the flu vaccine for the first time should get 2 doses of the vaccine, at least 4-6 weeks apart. Those older than 9 years need only one dose, even if they previously have not received the vaccine.