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Parents guide to cold, flu, pertussis

WHEN TO KEEP A CHILD HOME WITH ILLNESS DURING COLD AND FLU SEASON

Sometimes it can be difficult for a parent to decide whether to send children to school when they wake up with early symptoms of an illness or complaints that they do not feel well.  In general, during cold and flu season, unless your child has a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, the best place for them is in school where they have all already been exposed to the same germs and where they are less likely to expose other more vulnerable people, like the very young or very old, to their routine bouts of cold and flu. Here is a guide to help determine if it’s a cold, flu, or pertussis:

 

SYMPTOM

INFLUENZA(FLU)

COLD (VIRAL)

PERTUSSIS

Fever

Usually present and high (102-104); typically lasts 3-4 days

Uncommon

Uncommon. If present, typically low grade

Headache

Very common

Uncommon

Uncommon

Aches and pains, muscle aches, chest discomfort

Common, often severe

Slight to moderate

Uncommon

Fatigue and weakness

Moderate – severe; can last up to 14-21 days

Mild

Mild to moderate

Extreme exhaustion

Very common early in illness

Extremely rare

Rare

Stuffy or runny nose

Sometimes

Common

Common, early in the disease

Sneezing

Sometimes

Common

Common, early in the disease

Sore throat

Sometimes

Common

Uncommon

Cough

Non-productive, dry cough; rarely at night. Typically lasts 3-7 days

Hacking cough, often productive; rarely at night. Usually responds to cough medications. Typically lasts 3-7 days

Can be severe in infants and young children; persistent cough almost always > 1 week, usually 2-6 weeks. Can last 10 + weeks

Infectious period

1-2 days before onset to 5-10 days after

Typically 4-7 days after symptom onset; can be longer

From 7 days before the start of cough up to 21 days after cough onset





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