If you have a sick child with flu-like symptoms, it’s not always easy to tell when he may need medical care. Knowing which flu symptoms are more serious can help you know when to take your child to the doctor.
“Flu testing and antiviral medicines may be helpful to some children who may experience severe symptoms from a flu infection. Doctors and nurses will consider each child’s situation individually,” says Andi Shane, MD, MPH, System Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “However, most healthy children may be treated at home with fluids and fever-reducing medicines that don’t contain aspirin.”
What are common flu symptoms in kids?
A child with the flu will typically experience:
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Sore throat
When should I take my child to the doctor for flu symptoms?
Your child should be taken in for medical care if he has the following symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Inconsolable irritability
- Headache that does not go away
- Chest pain
- Labored breathing and a persistent cough
- Neck stiffness
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting and dehydration (decreased urination and no tears when crying)
- Back pain
- Weak legs or feet
- Severe muscle pain
- Red urine
Still in doubt? Remember, you know your child best. If your child’s symptoms are severe, or if you are concerned, it’s best to seek care from your child’s pediatrician first. If they’re unavailable, ask them about visiting a Children’s Urgent Care Center or emergency department.
Here’s what to expect if you do visit one of our facilities during flu season.
If you think your child has the flu, most symptoms can often be managed at home with rest and plenty of fluids. And, it’s never too late to get a flu shot.