Serious children’s flu symptoms to watch out for this season

My whole family just now suffered from a terrible flu virus. I thought that some of you will find this article from useful. Stay well and happy holidays! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cautions that even children who are generally very healthy can get dangerously sick with the flu. The CDC also cautions that children under 5 – especially those under 2 – are at risk for serious complications if they get the flu. Each year about 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized with flu complications such as pneumonia.

If your child has typical flu symptoms (see list below), talk to the doctor right away and ask if he should be examined. He may need treatment with antiviral drugs. They’re approved for babies as young as 2 weeks and work best when started within the first two days of the illness.

Here’s a quick list of typical flu symptoms (some of which, such as headache and muscle aches, are hard to detect in kids too young to describe their symptoms!). Someone with the flu will have some or all of these. Fever or feeling feverish (the CDC notes that not everyone with flu has a fever)

  • Chills and body shakes
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (not common, but happens in some kids; even less common in adults)

In contrast, a child with a cold typically has a lower fever, a runny nose, and only a little coughing. The flu usually makes kids (and adults) feel much sicker, achier, and more miserable than a cold does, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Finally, for babies under 12 months old, there are some additional precautions when it comes to fever and a cough. It’s time to call the doctor if your baby:

Is younger than 3 months old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher. A fever in a baby this young may indicate serious infection or disease. Has a fever that rises above 104 degrees repeatedly. Has had a fever for more than 24 hours. Develops a cough that is not improving after a week.

What is the flu?

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. There are many different influenza viruses, and in any given year some are more prevalent than others. Flu infections are most common during “flu season,” which lasts from approximately October to March. How can I help my child who has the flu feel more comfortable?

Whether or not the doctor prescribes medication, you’ll need to see that your child stays home and gets plenty of rest and – most important – plenty of fluids. Try offering frozen fruit bars and soup or broth. For muscle aches and fever, give your child a pain reliever such as children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to a child unless your doctor has recommended it. It can trigger Reye’s syndrome, a rare but life-threatening condition.) Resist the urge to pressure your doctor for antibiotics, which kill only bacteria. A virus—not bacteria—causes the flu, so antibiotics won’t do a thing. Antibiotics may be in order, however, if your child develops a secondary bacterial infection such as pneumonia, an ear infection, or bronchitis as a result of having the flu. Your child should start feeling better in three to five days. The fever will break first, and then his appetite should return. But this is just an average—some kids (and adults) have a cough that hangs on for two weeks or more.