Cold, flu, Covid: how to distinguish symptoms in children

Cold, flu, Covid: how to distinguish symptoms in children
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Colds, flu, Covid in children

Sore throat, cold, cough, fever: these are classic autumn symptoms, potential spies of flu or parainfluenza syndromes. And, this year, also of Covid-19. Yes, because unfortunately the symptoms are always the same, all very non-specific, and the question is: how to distinguish a possible Covid from the "usual" seasonal ailments?

"Unfortunately, distinguishing them based on symptoms is impossible"- says Michele Fiore, a family pediatrician in Genoa who followed the results of the research on the Covid emergency -" It is not possible to say with a simple visit whether colds, coughs, fever are caused by SARS-CoV-2 or some other virus. The only tool that allows you to distinguish the two possible cases is the nasopharyngeal swab".

In this article

How coronavirus manifests itself in children

According to the data of the international scientific literature, the main symptoms that may have manifested themselves in children affected by Covid-19 are:

  • fever
  • cough
  • headache
  • nausea / vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • sore throat
  • breathing difficulties
  • muscle pain
  • runny nose / nasal congestion

Unfortunately, however, it is the same symptoms that can be caused by other viral infections, such as flu or parainfluenza syndromes.

Read also: Headache in children

What to do if you have flu-like symptoms

The second question that is nagging parents right now is what to do with respect in case a child has mild symptoms, like a "trivial" cold. It is common experience, in fact, that children in nurseries and nurseries, but often also in primary school, spend the autumn and winter months passing from one cold to another. The concern, then, is that the child is forced to stay at home all the time or to swab each cold to rule out that it is Covid-19.

Indeed, this is a point on which there is still some uncertainty. On the one hand, some pediatricians - such as Professor Susanna Esposito of the University of Parma, president of the World Association for Infectious Diseases and Immunological Disorders - recalled that in most cases of children affected by Covid-19 who present symptoms ( because many remember, they are asymptomatic) there is a high fever. For this reason, usually a simple cold is hardly, on its own, a symptom of Sars-Cov-2 infection.

On the other hand, however, that a phenomenon is rare does not mean that it is impossible. "In children the disease may also present with some sneezing"Fiore says to Speaking of the need for tampons, he adds:" It is necessary to be clear that the management of suspected Covid is not that of any viral pathology, even in clinically trivial cases. The purpose, in fact, is not only to cure the single patient, but to check for infections and the infections are certainly not controlled by 'following the course' or by intervening only 'if symptoms worsen or persist beyond certain limits'. While 'you doctor' only pays attention to the patient, if the patient is an unidentified positive, his infected contacts chain infect other people. This is why the Ministry but also a little of all the Regions say they immediately ask for the swab in suspicious cases: precisely to trace and immediately isolate the case and his contacts ".

Surely the guidelines of the SIP are clear: for the pediatric patient positive to COVID the home treatment remains the same as that adopted for the flu, that is either ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Fewer infections with anti-Covid measures?

In all this, however, there could be a positive note, as the pediatrician reminded us in our direct social dedicated to the return to school. Piercarlo Salari, head of the working group on parenting support of the Del Paesena Society of Preventive and Social Pediatrics. It is in fact possible that the anti-Covid prevention measures provided for in schools - sanitation of spaces and materials, physical distancing and use of masks for older children, measurement of the inlet temperature for children 0-6 etc. - help to contain the spread of other respiratory viruses as well, responsible for common seasonal ailments.

In short, if on the one hand it is possible that a swab may also be requested for a cold, on the other it is hoped that the measures adopted can help reduce the spread of common flu viruses.

  • coronavirus
  • cold
  • cough
  • fever
  • influence
  • sore throat
  • Diarrhea
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