The Doctor Is In: Entering cold and flu season during a pandemic


MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Dr. Nancy Wood from Children’s Medical Group sits down with WKRG News 5 to touch on the topic of cold and flu season whilst under a pandemic.

Here are some FAQs: Common Cold v. Sinus Infection v. Flu v. RSV v. COVID v. Allergies

How are these illnesses similar?
-All can present with runny nose accompanied by or followed by cough
-Flu typically has prolonged fever/body aches
-Eye involvement is more common in allergies, itchiness/sneezing
-Common cold may have fever at the beginning of the illness; sinus infection/ear infection
typically presents with fever later in the course of illness
-RSV is typically younger children- presents as the common cold in older children- wheezing
-COVID can present with ANY or none of these symptoms!
How can a doctor tell the difference?
-It is impossible to differentiate COVID clinically from the other illnesses
-The other illnesses are differentiated based on the history and physical exam
-Duration of illness
-Severity of illness
-Performing labs
Importance of a pediatrician/medical home- the doctor knows your child and medical history
What is the treatment for each?
-Allergy medication (intranasal steroids/oral antihistamines)
-Antibiotics for sinus infection
-Antiviral for the flu, especially in patient populations with increased vulnerability (under 5,
especially under 2) or children with underlying medical conditions
-Common cold- supportive care
-RSV- supportive care and sometimes breathing treatments
-COVID- supportive care unless hospitalization is required- thankfully, this is rare
When do I need to go to the doctor?
-Child not acting like himself- fussier/not eating or drinking
-Fever for more than 3 or 4 days
-Symptoms worsening after 5-7 days
-Known exposure to COVID
When do I need to go back to the doctor?
-Doctor will tell you when to follow up
-In general, not improving in 3-4 days
-Appearance of new symptoms
I have some medicine from a previous illness, should I go ahead and start that?
-No; best to stick with OTC meds approved for your child until seen by doc- may not be appropriate for the new illness
When can I give my child OTC cough medication?
-AAP says 6-years-old for OTC cold/cough meds
-Honey is an excellent cough suppressant for children over 12-months-old
-saline/suction for younger children
What temperature is a fever?
-100.4 F; just like 97.6 does not cause concern, 99.6 should not; contrary to popular belief
When do I need to keep my child home from school/daycare?
-Certainly for fever
-Cough that is disruptive or causes vomiting
-Child appears ill
-During the pandemic, any known exposure
My child keeps catching colds; should I be worried about his immune system?
-Normal to have 2 colds that last about 7-10 days per month; may only be totally well for 10
days out of the month
-Recurrent serious illness or more than one unusual illness
Is there any medication I can give my child to help prevent a cold?
-Hand washing
-Healthy diet
-Multivitamin will not hurt
-Very cautious with other herbal medications not approved by the FDA


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