Figuring Out the Flu
Now that you know what the typical cold looks like, let's talk about the flu. It usually peaks from November through March, often for a few weeks at a time. Children can be contagious a day before symptoms start and for as long as they show them, which can be for up to two weeks.
Flu symptoms in older kids and adults are very specific and include:
- sudden onset of high fever (102 degrees or higher)
- aching muscles
- pain behind the eyes
- a sore throat
- a hacking cough
Preschoolers can say when their arms and legs hurt, and it's clear that your normally active child doesn't feel well when he won't get off the couch. However, these symptoms are harder to detect in babies and toddlers. Here are some guidelines: A cold comes on slowly over a few days, but the flu hits fast, sometimes within a few hours. The fever will last more than one or two days, and your child might not look much better after it breaks. You'll also see a big decrease in his activity level and appetite, and coughing will be worse than with colds. Babies and toddlers can also experience diarrhea and vomiting. If you think your kid has the flu, call his doctor.