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Is it the Cold or the Flu? How to Tell the Difference

By Donna Stark

Have you been noticing your child sneezing, coughing, and sniffling more than usual? If so, an uninvited guest may be staying at your house. But how can you tell who that guest is? Is it the common cold or something a little more nefarious? Since this is the time of year when the cold and flu season kicks into high gear, you may want to understand the difference between the two and know the signs for when a visit to the doctor is in order.

Telling Them Apart

Most parents understand the tendency to think the worst when a child starts to sniffle, but the worst doesn't always happen, does it? Sometimes, what your child is experiencing really is just a cold. So, before you start making a mountain out of a molehill, take a look at the following. It may help to keep you calm, cool, and collected.

Symptoms of the Common Cold

Generally, the symptoms of a cold will appear by the second or third day after exposure and can last between one to two weeks. And yes, your child may feel miserable during the course of it. Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for.

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Mild headache
  • Low-grade fever

The bad news is that the cold is a virus, which means it can't be treated with antibiotics. Instead, great nutrition, lots of rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter medications are the way to go. A humidifier can be a great help too!

The good news though, is that you don't have to worry too much. The cold will pass soon enough and your child will be bouncing off the walls in no time.

Symptoms of the Flu

On the other hand, symptoms of the flu will typically appear quite suddenly and can be severe. You can expect your child to have the flu for one to two weeks as well. Check out some of the flu's symptoms below.

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Moderate to high fever
  • Chills or body aches
  • Headache
  • Severe fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

As with the common cold, plenty of fluids and rest are important. But if your child's symptoms are severe, a doctor visit should be a part of the game plan. Fast treatment is key, and luckily with the flu, there are several prescription medications that will shorten the duration and intensity of this illness.

Feeling Better in no Time

Knowing the difference between colds and the flu will help you find the best course of treatment for your child. But remember, it's important to stress healthy habits before they get sick too! Great nutrition, good rest, and daily exercise go a long way to keeping everyone feeling good!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

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