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1/6/22 blog post

is it covid, flu, or cold? dealing with the respiratory illnesses spreading this season

a pediatrician shares why covid isn't the only virus causing concern

So, you and your children have had runny noses, a consistent cough and a sore throat for the last week. You each take a COVID test, but they all came back...negative? Lisa Ziemnik, MD, division chief of Dayton Children’s Kids Express and urgent care, says right now, there are two top concerns for physicians: COVID-19 and Influenza A. However, a smattering of respiratory viruses currently circulating with similar symptoms are also affecting people’s health. So how can we decipher the difference and most importantly, how can we keep our children healthy?  

what is making my child sick? 

First, getting tested is important. If your children are exhibiting symptoms such as a fever, chills, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fatigue it’s time to get a COVID test. Testing can help determine what next steps to take.  

Quarantining after a positive COVID test is important to keep this virus from spreading and sending people to the hospital. But say your test comes back negative. If you are still showing symptoms of being sick, staying home and practicing good hygiene are important. There are many other types of viruses currently circulating, from the adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, and even other types of coronaviruses. While both doctors and parents like to know the exact name for each illness, there is a point where the title doesn’t matter. For many viruses and respiratory illnesses, the treatments are going to be the same: rest, medications, fluids...and time. Time may be the hardest medicine to take. But with time, you and your child will likely overcome the sickness.  

when are these viruses going to go away?  

This season of respiratory illnesses will likely continue for several more months. In a pre-COVID world, things would calm down around mid-April. But with the continued threat of COVID, doctors are anticipating this season will last an additional two to three months. While they can’t predict much further than that, it is important that we don’t let down our guards of staying healthy. Continue to prioritize handwashing, avoiding putting hands in the mouth and face and wearing masks to lower the risks of contracting these illnesses, no matter what the diagnosis may be.  

how can I keep my children healthy?  

Right now, it’s most important to be vigilant. It is possible for your child to be infected with more than one virus at the same time. Their health and safety is most important. That's why you should reach out to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns. Dayton Children’s Hospital and its Kid Express locations and urgent care clinics can help test and determine what illness your child may have, then help with treatment to get your child back to their optimal health.  



Lisa Ziemnik, MD, FAAP

program director urgent care
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