About the flu

How does a parent know if it is a cold or the more serious flu? 

Colds are minor infections of the nose & throat caused by many different viruses & are one of the most common infections of the respiratory tract. A cold usually lasts about a week, but some colds last longer, especially in children. Colds are highly contagious & spread when droplets of fluid that contain a cold virus are touched or inhaled. Cold symptoms can include a stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, & mild to moderate cough. A cold is treated with over-the-counter medicines, rest, & fluids. 

The flu (influenza) is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. Unlike a cold, the flu comes on suddenly. It spreads from person to person by coughing or sneezing. People can also become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it & then touching their nose or mouth. This is especially common in children. Someone with the flu can infect other people beginning one day before symptoms develop & up to 5 days after becoming sick! Flu symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, severe aches & pains all over the body, extreme fatigue & weakness, chest discomfort, & cough. Nausea, vomiting, & diarrhea are more common in children. The flu can also lead to complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia, & dehydration. 

If your child gets the flu keep them home! They need to rest & drink plenty of fluids. Give them ChildrensTM Tylenol or Motrin for fever, aches & pains. Never give aspirin to a child under age 15 whom you suspect has a virus due to the risk of a serious adverse effect called ReyeâsTM Syndrome. Children need to be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school! This applies to any illness with a fever that your child may get. 

One of the best ways to help avoid getting colds & the flu is to encourage your children to wash their hands often with soap & warm water. Waterless cleansing gels work well when soap & water is not available. Encourage your children to cover their nose & mouth when coughing or sneezing. They should also eat heat well & get enough sleep & exercise. Flu shots are also beneficial.