Common Colds and Flu

As cold and flu season is quickly approaches, it may be very helpful to know the differences between a common cold and the flu, and how to help prevent illness.

A common cold begins slowly, unusually over a day or two. There may be only a slight fever, or none at all. Your child may only have a mild reduction in energy and usually will not complain of aching muscles. Their appetite should remain the same.

Influenza, or the "flu", usually has a very sudden onset- typically within hours. A high fever, chills, and extreme exhaustion are common symptoms. Your child may complain of headache, aching muscles, and lack of appetite.

Each child can exhibit different symptoms, so it is important that if you suspect they have the flu, that you call a doctor. If your child seems to be having any difficulty breathing, has a high fever, appears confused, has a sore throat, or is getting worse, they should get medical attention right away.

Flu shots are usually available around the end of September through early spring, and are covered in full by Healthy Montana Kids and most private insurances. No vaccination currently exists for prevention of the common cold.

If your child is ill and coughing, encourage them to cough into a tissue or their upper arm to help prevent the spread of germs.

Proper hand washing is the number one way to prevent common colds and the flu, if not vaccinated. Wash hands frequently and lather with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Try to avoid touching the face, eyes, and mouth. Hand sanitizer is also effective to kill cold & flu viruses, as long as the hands are not visibly dirty and hands are rubbed together until the sanitizer is completely dry.

I hope everyone has a healthy cold and flu season!