Does Your Child Have the Flu or COVID-19?

As some states begin to reopen schools this fall, children may bring home more than their homework. Despite our best efforts to protect children, they are still at risk for illnesses, such as the flu and COVID-19. Although the flu and COVID-19 share some symptoms and spread in similar ways, researchers are only starting to learn the differences between the two among children. The chart below shows some of the most frequently reported symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 to look out for when trying to determine the best care for your child.

Both Flu and COVID-19 COVID-19 Flu
Fever/chills Symptoms typically appear 5 days after infection, but can be as soon as 2 days and as long as 14 days Symptoms typically appear 1-4 days after infection
Headache Loss of taste Fever/cough appears to improve then worsens*
Cough Loss of smell Chest pain*
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath* Inability to stay awake* Severe dehydration*
Fatigue Loss of appetite 104°F or above fever*
Sore throat Nasal congestion Severe muscle pain*
Runny or stuffy nose Confusion* Ear pain
Muscle pain or body aches Constant chest pain or pressure* Worsening of chronic conditions*
Diarrhea or vomiting Children with severe cases may develop respiratory failure, myocarditis, shock, acute renal failure, coagulopathy, multisystem organ failure or multisystem inflammatory syndrome.*
Bluish lips/face*
*Seek emergency care

The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, and the difference can be undetectable by symptoms alone. Seek a test to confirm a diagnosis. Please don’t delay care.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthline

Find a Pediatrician

Fill out a contact form and we’ll call you to refer a doctor.