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Fall is a beautiful time of year; unfortunately it also means cold and flu season is upon us. Your little one wakes up one morning with a runny nose, a cough and upset tummy, sometimes it can be tricky figuring out if it is a common cold or a nasty flu. We have included some helpful information for you to determine which illness you are dealing with.

The Common Cold

Symptoms of the common cold: Colds come on gradually, starting with an irritated throat followed by a runny nose, congestion, sinus pain and sometimes a cough. These are rare but you could also experience a headache, fever, or even an ear ache.

How long does a cold last: Cold symptoms usually last between a few days and a week. You are most contagious in the first three days so you should stay home. If symptoms don’t improve within a week you should see a doctor to rule out any bacterial infections.

The Flu

Symptoms of the Flu: The flu comes on abruptly; you go from feeling fine to feeling like you your energy has been sucked out of you in a matter of hours. Some symptoms are the same as a cold but some classic flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, body aches, fatigue and in some cases nausea and vomiting.

What to do if you have the flu: Give yourself time to recover. Stay home and rest and rehydrate to replace the fluids you lose through sweating out the fever. Most people get over the flu without any problems and with no medical help. In more serious cases Pneumonia can develop so if you experience shortness of breath see your doctor. Children should see a doctor if their fever doesn’t break, they have trouble breathing and are not eating/feeding.

How long does the Flu last: Flu symptoms tend to improve slowly over the course of 3-5 days. But it is not uncommon to feel rundown for a week or longer.

What should I do to protect myself: To help prevent cold and flu, wash hands regularly to prevent germs from spreading. If you are coughing or sneezing, be sure to do so into a tissue or your upper sleeve. You can also keep your immune system strong by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Stay away from sick people and if you are sick stay home.

In addition to preventing the flu, a flu vaccine is available starting in October. It is best to get vaccinated as early as possible.

When to keep your child at home

The Wee Watch policy regarding child illness is as follows:

  1. If a child experiences any of the symptoms listed below during the day, the Provider must notify parents.
  2. Parents must immediately pick up their child once notified by their Provider, and bring the child to the doctor, if necessary.
  3. Children cannot return to daycare until they are symptom free for 24 hours.

Signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Elevated temperature
  • An acute cold, nasal discharge or severe coughing
  • Difficult or rapid breathing; sore throat or trouble swallowing
  • Headache, stiff neck
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

School aged Children: Whether or not you keep your school ager home from school depends on their age. A younger child may not know to wash their hands regularly and cough or sneeze into their sleeve so they will be more contagious than older ones who know better.

Diarrhea, vomiting and a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more are all grounds to keep your child at home. You want to make sure these symptoms are resolved before heading back to school.

Are they faking it?

As children get older, they may discover that if they don’t feel well, they get out of doing things or going places like school. The best way to spot a faker is a lack of details. Headaches and tummy aches are the most common complaints, but they’re often accompanied by a lack of other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever. When the other symptoms are present then you know something is wrong. You can also spot a faker if their symptoms magically get better as the day goes on.

If you suspect your child is faking it, the best thing to do is to have an honest chat with them. Ask if there is something else bothering them or a reason why they may not want to go to school.