Hot Topics     Home and Family     Healthy Kids     Health Guide    

A cold, or Covid-19? How to know the difference



Cold and flu season makes the pandemic more complicated

Cold and flu season makes the pandemic more complicated


I was recently teaching a child of 11 who had the sniffles. We were both masked and distanced. I felt bad for him, because while my mind kept telling me it’s very, very likely just a cold (it was), another, Covid-19-influenced voice was advising me to get away, fast. You know that voice. The one that says, you can’t be too careful, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Although we didn’t speak about it, the child knew he was in the unfortunate position of being a person with a cold in the Age of Covid-19. Usually engaged, he was shy and embarrassed, and bolted when it was time to leave.

Going forward, there will be more kids like him, as cold and flu season runs its course alongside the pandemic. And in part because Covid-19 symptoms differ wildly from person to person, and can mimic everything from the flu to a cold to other illnesses, it’s easy to understand how parents will be on edge, wondering if they should keep a child home, isolate them from siblings or take them to the doctor.

Writing for Popsugar, and taking her info from a Harvard study, Karen Schweitzer has some helpful tips for parents. “If your child has a fever,” she writes, “they should stay home. Chances are high that it is not the coronavirus, but they are still contagious. Many schools and pediatric offices are recommending that children with a persistent cough or runny nose should remain at home as well. Although that might seem more extreme — what preschooler isn't a boogery mess most days?! — it's simply an added step to mitigating risk.”

READ MORE: Covid-19 vaccine: a guide for parents

Dr. Claire McCarthy, MD, a primary care pediatrician who is also a professor at Harvard University, also has some practical, empathetic advice: “Not only is staying home and resting the best way to get better, but also you don't want to panic others by having your child cough in their child's face.”

The big question, of course, is: under what circumstances do I take my child to the doctor? Here’s a list:

  • any trouble breathing (rapid or heavy breathing, sucking in around the neck or ribs)

  • a severe cough that won't stop or that interferes with sleep or play

  • a high fever that won't come down even with medication

  • unusual sleepiness

  • any signs of dehydration (refusal to take fluids, dry mouth, not urinating at least every six hours, no tears when crying)

Also: “Covid toes,” where they are purple, blue, or there are red lesions appearing on patients' toes. Oddly, health experts now believe this may be a way to diagnose the infection, as they have appeared in otherwise asymptomatic and severe cases alike.

Schweitzer emphasizes that Covid-19 in children is still remarkably rare. Nevertheless, good information from reliable sources is key to mitigating at least some anxieties, and we’ll take whatever we can get in that department.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • View eagles in Mongaup

    Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area designated a Bird Conservation Area

    Mongaup was designated a Bird Conservation Area because of its unique combination of habitats important to bird species. read more »
  • Hike Smart & Be Prepared

    Safety tips for getting out in the winter months

    NYS DEC offers tips to keep you and your family safe while enjoying the outdoors this winter. read more »
  • Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program

    Adventure Awaits Students Ages 6-9

    The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program for children ages 6-9 has quickly become one of the Nature Museum’s most beloved programs. Originally created out of the needs of families undertaking distance/learning, the program has proved so popular it has remained in place by demand. read more »
  • 5 ways parents can get prepared for student loan repayments

    Tips to help you survive student loan payments

    If you’re a parent who took out a federal student loan for your child and you’ve been taking advantage of the payment freeze as part of the COVID-19 emergency relief, then things are about to change. Starting January 31, 2022, payments will resume and no further extensions are expected. read more »
  • STEAM learning toys for your little ones

    Young kids have fun while learning letters and numbers

    Edx Education teaches letters and numbers through hands-on play read more »
  • DCP offers tips to help New Yorkers stay safe and warm

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection warns New Yorkers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards during extreme cold weather

    The New York State Division of Consumer Protection today issued a consumer alert about the dangers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards in extreme cold weather. The winter months pose the most risk for these hazards—as the temperatures drop, consumers may turn to dangerous heating alternatives to stay warm. Propane heaters, generators, space heaters and/or outdoor grills all pose lethal risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards when used improperly. read more »
  • New gardening series with Newburgh Free Library

    Learn about herbs, microgreens, seeds, planning and planting

    Newburgh Free Library has a new gardening series starting with NUFFI, or Newburgh Urban Farm and Food, starting in February! read more »
  • Get up to 4 free at-home Covid-19 tests for your family

    The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 Tests

    The Biden Administration is Buying One Billion Tests to Give to Americans for Free; Online Ordering of a Half-Billion Tests Begins on January 19th; Builds on Significant Actions to Expand Testing Capacity and Increase Access to Free Testing read more »
  • New York’s Going Foam Free in 2022

    NYS is working to keep our environment safe

    In 2020, New York State adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts. read more »
  • Sherman Artists Open Studio – This Weekend!

    Painters, photographers, mixed media, jewelers, fused glass, and fabric artists will open their home studios

    This weekend is the very first Sherman Artists First Open Studio! Fifteen local Sherman artists are participating in the Sherman Open Studio Tour on Saturday and Sunday, December 4th and 5th, 2021, 10 am – 4 pm. Painters, photographers, mixed media, jewelers, fused glass, and fabric artists will open their home studios or participate in pop-up studios read more »