Cold or Flu? Or Swine Flu?

As if parents needed one more thing to worry about, this year we have to add Swine Flu to the list. The 2009 H1N1 Type A Influenza Virus (the official name for Swine Flu) is supposed to be particularly severe, but unfortunately the symptoms are like regular flu symptoms, which means you and your doctor won’t know, just based on symptoms, if it’s Swine Flu.

The regular, seasonal flu is already easily confused with a cold. So along with stocking up on antibacterial gel, you might want to brush up on the distinctions between a flu and cold with following chart.

Comparing the Symptoms

FeverSometimes, usually mildUsual; high (100-102 F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
General Aches, PainsSlightUsual; often severe
Fatigue, WeaknessSometimesUsual; can last 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme ExhaustionNeverUsual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy NoseCommonSometimes
Sore ThroatCommonSometimes
Chest Discomfort, CoughMild to moderate; hacking coughCommon; can become severe
ComplicationsSinus congestion; middle ear infectionSinusitis, bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia; can be life-threatening
PreventionWash your hands often; avoid close contact with anyone with a coldWash your hands often; avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms; for seasonal flu, get the annual flu shot; ask your doctor about antiviral medicine for either seasonal or swine flu.
TreatmentAntihistamines; decongestants; anti-inflammatory medicinesAntihistamines, decongestants, analgesics (ibuprofen or acetaminophen); antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours of seasonal or swine flu symptoms; call your doctor for more information about treatment.

Is it Serious?

If your little one has the flu, watch for the following symptoms that signal a child needs urgent medical attention:

  • Have fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Have bluish or gray skin color
  • Are not drinking enough fluid
  • Are not waking up or not interacting
  • Have severe or persistent vomiting
  • Are so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Have flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough
  • Have fever with a rash
  • Have a fever and then have a seizure or sudden mental or behavioral change.

Adults with the flu and experiencing any of the following symptoms should seek urgent medical help:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then come back with worsening fever or cough

Bettijo Bridges

Administrator at Paging Supermom
Bettijo is the founder and designer of Paging Supermom where she shares creative ideas for family fun. Known for practical and kid-friendly activities, free printables and holiday entertainment. Bettijo was a guest on the Martha Stewart Show and has frequently appeared on local TV. Her work has also been featured in national magazines including Real Simple, O, Redbook, Parents, Family Circle, and Health. She enjoys art, retro-modern design, photography and making new things. Mom of 4 kids.

3 thoughts on “Cold or Flu? Or Swine Flu?”

  1. This was helpful. 4 out of 5 of us have been sick in the last week and I’ve been meaning to look this up. My symptoms seemed more like a bad cold, but my kids were more like flu. Now I can see it is more likely that we all had the flu. Waiting for number 5 to get it.


  2. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of H1N1 and any other communicable disease is to make sure that our surroundings are clean and sanitized. This is a fight for survival and we must do our best to make sure that our children really are safe from all harm. Thanks for this post, it was very informative.


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