Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Is Your Kid Sick or Just Faking It?

Cold and flu season is upon us, but is your child really sick? 4 tips for suspicious parents.

1. Check Out the Medical Evidence

Common symptoms of flu - and swine flu -- include fever, extreme fatigue, dry cough, and body aches. Cold symptoms are typically milder, including a runny or stuffy nose. Taking the body temperature is a good first step, says JoAnn Rohyans, MD, a pediatrician in private practice who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Normal body temperature varies, she says. It can be about 97 degrees in the morning and higher later. "Ninety-nine degrees at the end of the day is still normal," she says. Pediatricians generally don't consider a fever significant until temperature rises above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can check your child's throat and tonsils if that's the origin of complaints, Rohyans says. But she says parents often think tonsils look awful when they're actually normal. "Tonsils that are sick look like moldy strawberries or raw hamburger," she tells WebMD.

Remember, if there’s any doubt -- especially when potentially serious illnesses like swine flu are a possibility -- call your child’s pediatrician.

2. Look for Telltale 'Faking' Signs

Fake symptoms typically don't have staying power. Be suspicious, Rohyans says, if your teen is coughing her lungs out one moment but then talking nonstop on the phone with friends.

Kids who are truly sick usually doze off while watching TV, she adds. So if your offspring is glued to a TV-watching marathon, wide awake, it could be a sign that he’s faking it.

Vague symptoms and those that move from one body part to the other may be a sign of faking it, says Donna Mazyck, RN, president of the National Association of School Nurses in Silver Spring, Md., and a high school nurse for 15 years. As in: "Oh, my head hurts. Now my stomach hurts." When the complaints move to the foot, be very suspicious, she says. "That's a little bit of a clue." Yet, she says, it's not foolproof, because sometimes symptoms are vague.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat