Childhood cold or flu – do you know the difference?

It’s the time of year when colds and flu are doing the rounds in schools and nurseries across Stafford and its surrounding areas.

But as a parent how do you tell the difference? Symptoms of a cold include a runny or blocked nose, sore throat, sneezing and a cough. Flu includes sudden fever, muscle aches, sweating, feeling exhausted and a dry or chesty cough. Although both illnesses share some of the same symptoms they are caused by different viruses.

Many people think flu is just a bad cold. It’s not. Flu can cause serious complications. Every year some children with flu become extremely ill and many of these would have been protected if only they had received their free vaccination.

Those eligible include children aged two, three or four, as well as children in school years one and two. Older children with specific medical conditions, for example asthma or diabetes, should also be vaccinated. For younger children the vaccine is a nasal spray not an injection.

Vaccinating the majority of children can help stop flu circulating amongst the wider population protecting, not just your own child, but those the child comes into contact with such as grandparents.

Dr Paddy Hannigan, Stafford GP and Chair of Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If your child is showing symptoms of a cold or flu, the best thing you can do is make sure they have lots of rest and fluids. Talk to the pharmacist about over the counter remedies. Antibiotics will not help.
“Keep them home and away from friends or family members that are over 65, are pregnant or have a long-term condition so they do not pass it on. And if you need advice when the pharmacists are closed call 111 to talk to the NHS. You’ll be advised on the best course of action.”

More information on colds and flu including a symptoms checker visit NHS Choices www.nhs.uk

If you child hasn’t been vaccinated for flu talk to their school or your GP.

For more information on staying well over winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

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