Is It a Cold, the Flu, or COVID-19?enparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/KH_generic_header_01_2.jpgYour child has a sore throat, cough, and a high fever. Is it COVID-19? Could it be the flu? Or just a cold? Here are tips on what to look for — and what to do.cold, colds, common cold, flu, influenza, the flu, flu shot, influenza shot, coughs, cough, coughing, stuffy head, congestion, congested, runny nose, sniffles, sniffling, sneeze, sneezing, sneezes, aches and pains, fatigue, tired, tiredness, malaise, run down, fevers, fever, temperature, low-grade fever, high fever, chills, dizzy, dizziness, shakes, loss of appetite, exhaustion, exhausted, is it a cold or the flu, cold or flu, cold or the flu03/23/200009/30/202009/30/2020Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD09/28/2020cb514324-80d8-4189-bf6b-4463fc30a15chttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu-vs-cold.html/<p>Your child has a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sore-throat-sheet.html/">sore throat</a>, <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/childs-cough.html/">cough</a>, and a high <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fever.html/">fever</a>. Is it <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus.html/">COVID-19</a>? Could it be <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu.html/">the flu</a>? Or just a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/cold.html/">cold</a>?</p> <p>All these illnesses are caused by <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/germs.html/">viruses</a> that infect the <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/lungs.html/">respiratory tract</a>. All are contagious and can spread easily from person to person. And they cause some similar symptoms. So it can be hard to tell them apart.</p> <p>Here are some things to look for if your child gets sick.</p> <h3>The Common Cold (Caused by Many Different Viruses)</h3> <p>Cold symptoms usually are mild. They often include a tickly throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. If there's a fever, it is <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/take-temperature.html/">not high</a>. A child with a cold usually feels quite well, and has a good appetite and normal energy levels.</p> <p>There is no test for the common cold, and no specific treatment. It just needs to run its course.</p> <h3>The Flu (Caused by the Influenza Virus)</h3> <p>The flu can also be mild. Usually, though, kids with the flu feel worse than if they have a cold. They might have a fever that comes on suddenly, with chills, a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/headache.html/">headache</a>, and body aches. They can have a sore throat, runny nose, and cough. And they feel generally miserable and tired and don't have much of an appetite. Some kids even have belly pain, nausea, <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/vomit.html/">vomiting</a>, or <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/diarrhea.html/">diarrhea</a>.</p> <p>A doctor can check if someone has the flu by doing a test that looks for the flu virus.</p> <p>Most kids with flu <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/tips-take-care.html/">get better at home</a> with plenty of liquids, rest, and comfort. In some cases, a doctor might prescribe an antiviral medicine to lessen the symptoms and shorten the illness. Some people get very ill and need treatment in the hospital.</p> <p>Unlike colds or COVID-19, many cases of the flu can be prevented by getting a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu-vaccine.html/">flu vaccine</a> every year.</p> <h3>COVID-19 (Caused by a Type of Coronavirus)</h3> <p>Kids infected by the coronavirus may not have any symptoms, or their symptoms can be mild, like those of a common cold. Some can have more severe flu-like symptoms. So COVID-19 symptoms can look very much like those from a cold or the flu. But one symptom that happens more commonly in COVID-19 is a loss of taste or smell.</p> <p>To see if someone has coronavirus, doctors can <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-tests.html/">do a test</a> that looks for a piece of the virus in the respiratory tract. They also can check for a past infection by doing a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-antibody-testing.html/">blood test</a> that looks for antibodies.</p> <p>There is no vaccine or specific medicine for COVID-19 yet, but experts are working on these. Most people with COVID-19 <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-stop-spread.html/">get better at home</a> with plenty of liquids, rest, and comfort. Some people get very ill and need treatment in the hospital.</p> <h3>When Should I Call the Doctor?</h3> <p>If you have any doubts or questions, it's best to call your doctor. An illness that seems like a cold can turn out to be the flu or COVID-19. And other illnesses, like <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/strep-throat.html/">strep throat</a> or <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/pneumonia.html/">pneumonia</a>, can cause similar symptoms but need different treatment. Sometimes it's hard to know for sure which germ is causing the problem. Then, doctors might do some tests to find out.</p> <p>Get medical care right away if your child:</p> <ul> <li>seems to be getting worse</li> <li>has trouble breathing</li> <li>has a high fever</li> <li>has a bad headache</li> <li>has a sore throat</li> <li>seems confused</li> <li>has severe belly pain</li> <li>has pain or pressure in the chest</li> <li>has trouble staying awake</li> <li>looks bluish in the lips or face</li> </ul> <p>Call your doctor right away if your child has <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/asthma-basics.html/">asthma</a> or another illness and starts to feel sick with symptoms that might be the flu or COVID-19. The doctor might want to do some tests or start a specific medicine for the flu.</p> <h3>What Can Parents Do?</h3> <p>Common steps that help <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fighting-germs.html/">prevent the spread of germs</a> also work well against the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19. It's always wise to:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/hand-washing.html/">Wash hands</a> well and often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.</li> <li>Avoid people who appear sick.</li> <li>Clean surfaces that get touched a lot (like doorknobs, counters, phones, etc.).</li> </ul> <p>During the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in your family also should:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li>Avoid large crowds and busy places.</li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-social-distancing.html/">Stay at least 6 feet</a> from people they don't live with.</li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/mask-care.html/">Wear a mask</a> when in public (all adults and kids over 2 years old).</li> <li>Try not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.</li> </ul> <p>Everyone in your family 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year. It's extra important to get it during the 2020-2021 flu season because:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li>Preventing flu in your family will help you avoid needing medical care when health care providers are so busy caring for people with COVID-19.</li> <li>Health experts worry that people who get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time might have a more serious illness.</li> <li>Preventing the flu and its symptoms means that your family will be less likely to need testing (for flu or coronavirus) or to <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-how-to-quarantine.html/">isolate at home</a>.</li> </ul> <p>Keep your child home if they're sick or were near someone who is infected with coronavirus. Talk to your doctor about when it's OK for your child to go back to school or childcare.</p>¿Es un resfriado o una gripe?Su hijo vuelve de la escuela con dolor de garganta, tos y fiebre alta. ¿Se habrá contagiado la gripe que anda dando vueltas por ahí? ¿O se trata sólo de un resfriado común?https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/es/parents/flu-vs-cold-esp.html/889f46a9-8d88-4dbe-855e-e2c2a618649f
ColdsColds are the most common infectious disease in the United States - and the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/cold.html/cde8bccc-0aac-4680-b312-7fda52b78627
Coping With ColdsMost teens get between two and four colds each year. Read this article for the facts on colds and ways to feel better when you catch one.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/colds.html/dd5a6c53-60f6-4e16-ad82-61dddcad1910
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Helping Kids Get Used to MasksPeople are wearing masks to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Some toddlers and young children may feel uneasy about masks. Here's how to reassure your child.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-masks.html/3853b4d8-a58e-45fb-acfb-9bf0b4564e28
Coronavirus (COVID-19): How You Can Make a DifferenceAll over the world, people are staying home due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Social distancing is something we all can do to make a big difference. It's not easy, but these tips can help.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/coronavirus-calm.html/bd70321a-8dce-4744-a5cd-d68993672738
Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to Quarantine or Isolate at HomeSomeone with a positive coronavirus test is infected and is contagious. They will need to stay home to prevent the virus from spreading to others. Here's how to quarantine or isolate at home.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-how-to-quarantine.html/3e66435b-d9b4-4a6c-b538-b131a068f0b8
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Is it Safe to Send Kids Back to School?Parents are wondering whether it's safe to send their kids back to school during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here are some things to think about as you decide.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-school.html/78fb9154-0edc-49e4-b0a5-401c880fb2cf
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Is it Safe to Send My Kids to Childcare?Many parents are wondering if it's OK to send kids to childcare during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some things to know before making a choice.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-childcare-camps.html/0537af83-8ae4-43f2-b4c4-c2eb1764669e
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Social Distancing With ChildrenNow that coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading through communities in many countries, the best way to fight this spread is for everyone to practice social distancing. Here's what that means.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-social-distancing.html/7a5da5f8-18fc-489b-a6bc-979f31e68ff1
Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Do Quarantine and Isolation Mean?Some people with COVID-19 might need to stay home and away from others for a set time. This is known as isolation or quarantine. Find out what this means.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/coronavirus-isolation-quarantine.html/590211b1-f1d5-4feb-b333-93d5062647e3
Coronavirus: What Kids Can DoHere are the 4 best ways everyone (including kids) can help stop coronavirus.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/coronavirus-kids.html/c7e537cf-9372-4609-9cd1-f54e8eaca7bc
FeversFevers happen when the body's internal "thermostat" raises the body temperature above normal. This is often the body's way of fighting infections.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fever.html/42ab5a5d-1c03-493e-acf5-0ac569d1b946
First Aid: Common ColdKids can get up to eight colds a year - or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/common-cold-sheet.html/f9dd685a-6973-4a14-bf84-2fbfc63dd908
First Aid: The FluTelltale signs of the flu include a sore throat, body aches and fever. Here's what to do if your child has the flu.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu-sheet.html/70184e8f-67e8-4421-a73f-005d6365fd09
FluThe flu is a virus that can make you sick for a week or longer. Find out more in this article for kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/flu.html/526672bd-97aa-48f7-a785-4bb0842737b2
Flu CenterThe flu can make you sick for a week or more. Find out how to get protected from the influenza virus.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/center/flu-center.html/6d7ab47a-521c-4a09-ada9-fb1035a675be
Flu FactsEvery year from October to May, millions of people across the United States come down with the flu. Get the facts on the flu - including how to feel better if you get it.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/flu.html/acfdcf98-fcf2-42a4-85c2-9285c6192eec
The Flu (Influenza)Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly and are worse than the sneezing and stuffiness of a cold. The flu is very contagious. Find out what to do in this article for parents. https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu.html/dfdd8061-bafc-4f1f-97dd-884d29a5f6e3
The Flu: Stop the SpreadFollow these tips to help prevent the spread of the flu.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/flu-spread.html/240e4b54-f6fd-4938-aa81-88a652d54e1b
Tips for Treating the FluHere are some quick tips for helping your child get over the flu.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/tips-take-care.html/ec0c9969-c28f-4cc3-8f19-68619e1093fe
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?The flu vaccine is a good idea for all families. It does not cause the flu, and it helps keep kids and parents from getting sick.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu-vaccine-good.html/81dd15c9-6537-4919-b93d-4d10334673cc
kh:age-allAgesOrAgeAgnostickh:clinicalDesignation-generalPediatricskh:genre-articlekh:primaryClinicalDesignation-NACold & Flu Reviewhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/infections/cold-flu-review/1396df9e-4f6e-4b0e-9616-83ad14091708Sick Kidshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/general/sick/3c1c9be2-f915-4f76-baac-ad2943a5a8e6Common Childhood Infectionshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/infections/common/e4866969-66b0-471f-a791-8849a3764018All About Fluhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu-center/flu-center-about/cc610808-b520-4002-90e6-5dab1a0ebcda