Help, my child is sick! Is it the flu, a cold, or COVID?

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Since school has started back in the wiregrass, Dothan Pediatric Clinic is reporting seeing more cases of COVID-19 in their patients.

“Luckily, we still are having a very very small number of kids who have any significant symptoms, most of them are mild,” Dr. Michael Ramsey said. “They tend to have cold, flu-like symptoms that only last for a few days as opposed to the prolonged illnesses that we see in the adults.”

Ramsey said COVID-19 is difficult to diagnose because in children it mimics regular respiratory illnesses. So if children aren’t seeing significant symptoms, how are parents and doctors able to differentiate between a common cold, the flu, and COVID-19?

“Some of the things since this is the flu season, kind of to differentiate between the two, flu tends to come on very abruptly like the children will be well and then that afternoon they will have a time you can almost time it to the minute when you know they’ve gotten sick,” Ramsey said. “COVID tends to be a little more insidious. It tends to come on over a few days, not that it can’t come on abruptly, but most of the time, it tends to come on a little bit more over a few days.”

If your child has cold symptoms for a few days followed by a fever, Ramsey said it’s probably time for the child to be seen. While COVID-19 cases in their patients have gone up, Dothan Pediatrics has seen a drop in flu cases.

“This typically would be a busy time of year for flu although flu activity is very low, we are attributing that to more infection control measures in place and children and students wearing masks,” Ramsey said.

Winter is the most common time to see strep throat, colds, and stomach virus illnesses because children are staying inside and spreading germs easier. Ramsey said to keep your family healthy this year, they recommend frequent sanitizing, stay home when sick, and keeping children socially distant when possible.

Another important recommendation is keeping children up to date with checkups and regular immunizations so that we don’t see a surge in regular vaccine-preventable illnesses in the middle of a pandemic.

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