Sniffles, sneezes and fever, oh my! It’s not always easy to know what’s making your child sick.

Colds and flu are caused by different viruses, but they have similar symptoms. Kirstin Lee, MD, a Washington University pediatric hospitalist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, says there are three signs parents can watch out for.

“A high fever, muscle aches and feeling unusually tired may mean flu,” Dr. Lee says. “Also, the flu tends to come on hard and fast, and kids get better in about a week. Symptoms of colds, such as cough and stuffy noses, show up over a few days.”

When to See a Doctor

Many children can get over a cold or the flu with medicines you can find at drugstores. Also, make sure they get plenty of fluids and rest.

“If you think your child is having trouble breathing or is dehydrated, call her pediatrician,” Dr. Lee says. “Any child who is younger than 2 or who has any kind of respiratory, heart or immune condition needs to be extra careful. The flu vaccine is extremely helpful in keeping the flu out of your home.”

Need a doctor? Call 314.454.KIDS (5437) or toll-free at 800.678.KIDS for a referral.


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