COVID or something else? Common illnesses with symptoms like COVID

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(WSBT) – Now that class is back in session, that also means back-to-school sickness will likely make a return. “The icky” unfortunately comes in the form of a cold, the flu, strep throat, and even Hand Foot Mouth Disease.

Colds are common and usually go away on their own. The problem is we’re still in a pandemic. A lot of these common illnesses for children look like COVID.

Saint Joseph Health System Pediatrician Dr. Rushabh Shah said influenza, or the flu, is a major concern. He explains most of the time if your child has a fever, seems tired, and has a cough, you can give them acetaminophen. Plus, make sure they’re getting fluids and sleeping.

COVID does remain a concern, however. Dr. Shah says when in doubt, call your doctor.

“Most covid symptoms are overlapping with cold and flu symptoms. In that case – it is – that is when I said, if your kid is not turning around in 2 to 3 days it is important to contact your doctor’s office to get evaluated. One thing I usually consider is if there is a family history of somebody getting COVID recently or COVID exposure. That is a very important clue,” said Dr. Shah.

Dr. Shah said the best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot. Also, if your child is eligible for the COVID vaccine, they should get that, too. Another reminder, if your child is sick, protect others by not sending them to school.

Sniffles, coughs, and bellyaches are also normal “kid stuff” when back-to-school comes around. Again, most go away on their own, but sometimes it can turn serious.

Strep throat is one illness that has symptoms very similar to the cold or flu but needs to be treated by a doctor. Strep is a bacterial infection.

The symptoms are sore throats, fever, runny nose, a cough, or bellyache. Sounds like the flu, right? However, if it is strep throat and left untreated, it can cause kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.

Dr. Shah urges if you think your child has strep to get them treated. It is very contagious.

Something else very contagious to look out for is pink eye. It could clear up on its own, but again, it is contagious.

Hand Foot Mouth Disease is also another common respiratory illness, with similar symptoms to the others discussed. Symptoms include fever, cough, and congestion. Some kids with the disease will get a rash. The good news is the virus usually goes away on its own.

Dr. Shah said the overall rule of thumb is if the illness doesn’t clear up in a few days, call your doctor.

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