Are They Cold or Flu Symptoms?

Almost half of moms expect a pediatrician to tell them whether their child’s symptoms are the result of a cold or the flu.1 Explain the difference and teach parents how to help prevent the spread of illness.

You know your patients best, but some symptoms they may contact you about include:

  • A cough with a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual fatigue or lethargy
  • A hard time keeping liquids down or poor fluid intake
  • Increasing headache or facial or throat pain
  • A very sore throat that disrupts swallowing
  • A fever of 104°F or higher (or 100.4°F or higher for children less than 3 months)
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • An earache
  • Symptoms that seem to be getting worse

Start flu vaccinations at 6 months

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older, unless contraindicated.5

Counseling considerations for cold & flu prevention
During appointments, remind parents to

  • Disinfect solid surfaces at home that are often touched
  • Encourage children to wash their hands often
  • Teach their child not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Show their child how to sneeze and cough into a tissue or upper arm instead of their hands


Is it a cold or the flu?2,3

Cold symptoms

  • Develop slowly and are usually milder

Flu symptoms

  • Come on suddenly and are more severe

May include:

  • Mild or no fever
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Mild fatigue
  • Cough
  • Slight muscle aches
  • Mild headache
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Typically lasts less than 2 weeks

May include:

  • Fever (usually over 101°F)
  • Stuffy nose (sometimes)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches, especially in arms, legs, and back
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Chills and sweats
  • Typically lasts less than 2 weeks
Child cold and flu resources for parents

Downloadable cold & flu resources

Help parents soothe symptoms and offer treatment tips.

Children’s TYLENOL® Dosing

Help parents give their children the right dose

Tools for parents to administer antipyretics correctly.

REFERENCES: 1. Data on file. McNeil Consumer Healthcare. Fort Washington, PA; 2014. 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu symptoms and complications. Accessed April 10, 2017. 3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cold versus flu. Accessed April 10, 2017. 4. Common cold. Accessed April 10, 2017. 5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children, the flu, and the flu vaccine. Accessed April 10, 2017. 6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stopping the spread of germs at home, work & school. Accessed April 17, 2017.