Dr Ahmed Massoud, Consultant Paediatrician and Endocrinologist, The Portland Hospital
Q. How can I distinguish if my child has the flu rather than just a bad cold?
A. Flu and the common cold are infections caused by viruses. The former is caused by a specific virus, the “flu virus”, which, over time, can change into a different version or strain. The common cold can be caused by hundreds of different viruses, most commonly by Rhinoviruses and Coronaviruses. It is very common for children to develop colds: on average, a child would be expected to have 3-8 colds per year. Although the symptoms of flu and the common cold are similar, there are some clear differences. Flu tends to be a more severe illness, comes on more rapidly, is associated with a fever, dry cough, headache, tiredness, chills, muscle aches, limb pains, loss of appetite as well as sore throat, blocked/runny nose and sneezing. The common cold, on the other hand, is a milder infection manifesting with sneezing, runny/congested nose, tickly throat, dry cough and general feeling of being unwell, in marked contrast with flu which often results in exhaustion and the need to rest. The common cold lasts on average 5 days whilst flu lasts a little longer (8 days). Both illnesses are self-limiting (get better on their own accord) and neither needs treatment with antibiotics. Ensuring adequate fluid intake, giving paracetamol and/or ibuprofen to relieve pain/reduce temperature and the use of nasal decongestants are the main stay of treatment.
For further information or to book an appointment please contact Dr Massoud’s secretary.
Tel. 020 7390 6504