This time of year is when colds and flu start are more widespread and doing the rounds in schools and nurseries. Local doctors want to remind parents about the different symptoms each can cause.
As a parent do you know the difference? Symptoms of a cold include a runny or blocked nose, sore throat, sneezing and a cough. Flu includes sudden fever, muscle aches, sweating, feeling exhausted and a dry or chesty cough. Although both illnesses share some of the same symptoms they are caused by different viruses.
Dr David White, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care at both NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said:
“Most people think flu is just a bad cold. It’s not. Flu can cause serious complications. Every year some children with flu become extremely ill and many of these would have been protected if they had received their free vaccination.”
All primary school children are now eligible to have the flu vaccine. Older children with specific medical conditions, for example asthma or diabetes, should also be vaccinated. For younger children the vaccine is a nasal spray and not an injection.
Vaccinating children can help stop flu circulating amongst the wider population protecting, not just your own child, but also those who are vulnerable and come into contact with a child such as grandparents and those who suffer from a long term condition such as heart disease, diabetes or breathing problems. For these groups of people catching the flu can be very serious and even life threatening. Even if your child had the flu vaccination last year, they will still need it again this year.
Dr White added:
“If your child is showing symptoms of a cold or flu, the best thing to do is make sure they have lots of rest and fluids. Talk to your local pharmacist about over the counter remedies. Antibiotics will not help.
“Keep children at home so they don’t pass it on. If you need advice when the pharmacists are closed call 111 to talk to the NHS. You’ll be advised on the best course of action.”
If your child hasn’t been vaccinated for flu talk to their school or your GP.
For more information on staying well over winter visit: www.nhs.uk/staywell