News How to spot the difference between the flu and coronavirus in children

How to spot the difference between the flu and coronavirus in children

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It is a question that has perplexed people around the world: How do you know if you have the coronavirus or the flu?

There are some tell-tale signs.

Knowing what your body is trying to tell you may have got a little bit easier for children, and the key is to look at the prevalence of symptoms.

US scientists compared the symptoms of 315 kids with COVID-19 to 1402 with seasonal flu and a greater number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 reported fever, diarrhoea or vomiting, headaches, body aches or myalgia, and chest pain when they were diagnosed.

Fever was the most frequently reported symptom among COVID-19 and flu patients, followed by a cough according to the study at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC.

Researchers looked at similarities and differences in clinical features between COVID-19 and seasonal influenza in US children. Photo: Getty

However, researchers found no differences in the rate of coronavirus patients being admitted to hospital, the intensive care unit or needing a ventilator when compared to those who had the flu.

More specifically, the comparison researchers made was with COVID-19 patients and those with influenza A and influenza B.

When they just looked at people in hospital with influenza A, they still found there were more COVID-19 patients who experienced a fever, cough, diarrhoea and vomiting, and body aches or myalgia.

However, when coronavirus patients were compared with those with influenza B, no “statistically significant” differences were found.

Just over three-quarters of COVID-19 patients had a fever, almost half reported a cough, and about one-quarter experienced shortness of breath, diarrhoea or vomiting, and body aches or myalgia.

“We believe it is prudent to ensure individuals with co-morbidities receive the influenza vaccine to prevent severe disease courses that lead to hospitalisation,” the researchers wrote.

They hope their study will give doctors greater ability to identify and treat children with a respiratory viral infection in healthcare facilities.

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