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Childhood cold or flu – do you know the difference?

As colds and flu start doing the rounds in schools and nurseries, doctors across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are reminding parents about the different symptoms each cause.

But as a parent how do you tell 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 Phil Huxley, Chair of NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Many 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 only they had received their free vaccination.”

Those eligible include children aged two, three or four, as well as children in school years one two and three. Older children with specific medical conditions, for example asthma or diabetes, should also be vaccinated. For younger children the vaccine is a nasal spray not an injection.

Vaccinating the majority of children can help stop flu circulating amongst the wider population protecting, not just your own child, but those the child comes into contact with such as grandparents. Even if your child had the flu vaccination last year, they will still need it this year

Dr Preeti Shukla, Clinical Lead at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, added: “If your child is showing symptoms of a cold or flu, the best thing you can do is make sure they have lots of rest and fluids. Talk to the pharmacist about over the counter remedies. Antibiotics will not help.

“Keep them home and away from friends or family members that are over 65, are pregnant or have a long-term condition so they do not pass it on. And 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.”

More information on colds and flu can be found on the CCG website at: http://eastlancsccg.nhs.uk/patient-information/your-health/children-and-young-people-s-health/childhood-flu-vaccination

If you 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