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Viral Illnesses - Flu, RSV, COVID or a Cold?

Viral Illnesses - Flu, RSV, COVID or a Cold?

These past few years have been unique with regards to viral illnesses. For many kids, they just experienced their first "normal" year of school or daycare. We typically expect kids to get 8-10 colds their first year exposed to a community environment. While these are often frustrating, they are self limited and generally well tolerated with symptom relief (over-the-counter medication, rest, hydration)


Fever lasting more than 3 days, respiratory distress and poor intake (fluids) leading to dehydration are the main reasons we need to see children in the office. 

Most kids do not need routine viral testing, as it will not change their symptom management or keep them from returning to school or daycare. 


Check your child's viral illness symptoms using the chart below, and see the Respiratory Virus Guidance for core prevention, what do if you think your child has a respiratory virus and when to call your pediatric provider.

(click here to view image larger)

flu rsv covid-19 covid symptom chart sick kid child viral illnesscore prevention respiratory virus guidelines 2024what to do if you if your child has a respiratory viruswhen to call pediatrician 2024


These days, most people with COVID have a known positive exposure. If you don't know of anyone in your close circle of friends and family who has recently tested positive for COVID-19, it is less likely than the other viral illnesses right now.

*This may likely change as the holidays approach, so make sure you are updated on your annual flu shot and COVID vaccines.


Respirator Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common cold for most people. Kids under 2 are the highest risk for severe disease; so be vigilant in looking for fast breathing, wheezing and any respiratory distress in babies. Older kids do not need testing for RSV.

Watch a video from Dr. Edwards about RSV HERE.


Influenza (Flu) is here in our community. Kids will often have high fevers (104 F - 105 F) and fever often lasts for 4-5 days. High fever as the only symptom is not dangerous and does not need an emergency visit. While most people recover from flu fairly easily, it can cause severe illness in younger children (under 5), children with underlying chronic illness (asthma, diabetes) and in immunocompromised adults. Please call for an appointment if you are worried about your child with flu.

*It is never too late to get your flu vaccine, even if you've already had one diagnosed flu infection this year. Typically we get more than one flu season each year.

Read more about the flu, and watch videos from Dr. Lester and Dr. Parmele on prevention and treatment tips HERE.


For specific concerns about cough, and home management resources, watch a video from Dr. Edwards HERE.

For specific concerns about fever, and home management resources, watch a video from Dr. Edwards HERE.


As always, we are here for your family for any concerns and our nurse advice line is available by calling our main number 24/7, 365 days a year. 

We hope this information is helpful and provides more guidance (and maybe even some relief) on if your child needs to be seen in the office.


This article was updated on 3.20.24.