Does your child have a cold—or something else? Symptoms such as sore throat, a cough, fever, and congestion are signs of more than one type of viral or bacterial infection. If you're not sure whether your child has a cold or not, take a look at what you need to know about the possible culprits and how an urgent care clinic can help.
What Other Illnesses Have Cold-Like Symptoms?
There's a reason it's called the "common" cold. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children may have between eight and ten colds during their first two years. Even though the cold is a common respiratory illness that most children will catch repeatedly, it isn't the only reason why your child may have a sore throat, runny nose, or other similar symptoms.
Other illnesses that have cold-like symptoms also include:
COVID-19. This well-known respiratory virus often mimics the common cold. Quarantine and isolation issues may make it necessary to rule out COVID. This means it's likely your child will need a test for the virus.
Adenovirus. Adenoviruses also cause respiratory infections in children. The symptoms may include a high fever, ear pain/infection, or runny nose.
The flu. Like cold and COVID, the flu is another respiratory virus. Its symptoms are similar to a cold (congestion, sore throat, fever)—but are often more severe. Your child may also have muscle aches and extreme fatigue with the flu.
Strep throat. This bacterial infection causes a sore throat, fever, rash, and headache. Unlike viral infections, a bacterial illness (such as strep) may require antibiotics to treat.
RSV. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause a runny nose, fever, and cough. While RSV is minor for many children, it has the potential to cause serious respiratory distress, pneumonia, or bronchiolitis—especially in infants and children with lung disease.
Bronchitis. A persistent cough, low fever, wheezing, and an increase in mucus production could signal this respiratory infection.
Parents should never attempt to diagnose a possible respiratory infection on their own. Even though it might seem like your child has a cold, upper respiratory symptoms require a medical evaluation and a doctor's diagnosis.
How Can Urgent Care Services Help?
Your child's regular pediatrician isn't the only medical provider who can diagnose and treat a respiratory illness. The top reasons to seek help from an urgent care clinic include evening/weekend service, a no-appointment-needed option, and the availability of on-site testing.
An urgent health care clinic provider can examine your child on the spot, order tests (such as a nasal swab for COVID, a throat swab for strep, or a chest x-ray), diagnose the illness, and recommend a treatment. If your child needs further evaluation, the clinic doctor can help you to take the next steps toward your child's treatment.
Reach out to a clinic like 75th St Injury & Illness Center to learn more.