Symptoms of respiratory infections, including COVID-19
Respiratory infections can spread easily between people, so it's important to be aware of the symptoms so you can take action to reduce the risk of spreading your infection to others.
Symptoms of COVID-19, flu and common respiratory infections include:
- continuous cough
- high temperature, fever or chills
- loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
- shortness of breath
- unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
- muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise
- not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
- headache that is unusual or longer lasting than usual
- sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
- diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick
People who are at higher risk from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections include:
- older people
- those who are pregnant
- those who are unvaccinated
- people of any age whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness
- people of any age with certain long-term conditions
Please remember that you will not always know whether someone you come into contact with outside your home is at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from a respiratory infection. They could be strangers (for example, people you sit next to on public transport) or people you may have regular contact with (for example, friends and work colleagues).
This means it is important to follow the guidance to reduce the spread of infection and help to keep others safe.
What should I do if my child has symptoms of a respiratory infection?
Respiratory infections are common in children and young people, particularly during the winter months. Symptoms can be caused by several respiratory infections including the common cold, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and for most children and young people, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.
Attending education is hugely important for children and young people’s health and their future. Children and young people with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their education setting.
Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend.
All children and young people with respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.