Dr. Le-Bucklin’s Answer:
In general, the symptoms of the common cold are milder than the flu (seasonal and H1N1). Children with colds are more likely to exhibit nasal symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose. They may have low grade fevers and cough. The flu typically presents with high fevers, cough, and muscle aches. Nasal symptoms are usually less pronounced with the flu. Vomiting or diarrhea may be seen with H1N1 flu. That being said, it’s often difficult to tell if a child has a cold or the H1N1 flu because the symptoms may appear very similar especially with mild H1N1 flu.
Signs of a severe infection that may be attributable to H1N1 flu (or a secondary bacterial infection) include high fevers, trouble breathing, severe headache, excessive sleepiness or inability to be easily awakened, inconsolable irritability, rash with fever, inability to drink well, or a period of recovery followed by a recurrence of fevers and/or worsening cough. Children with these symptoms should be seen by a medical professional urgently.
Note: I was recently interviewed by Lani, the mother of triplets and co-founder of the Multiples and More Blog Network. This question was from our interview.