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Flu Symptoms? Where to Go and When

Pulse flu

Dr. Katherine Jennifer Leaming-Van Zandt of Texas Children’s Hospital breaks down everything you need to know about the Flu. Flu season is definitely in full swing…and, many pediatricians’ offices, urgent care clinics and emergency centers (ECs) have been seeing large volumes of children with flu-like symptoms arrive daily. Most children who have the flu will exhibit mild symptoms (such as fever, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, muscle/body aches, headache, vomiting/diarrhea, decreased appetite, and fatigue/tiredness) and recover in less than two weeks. However, some higher-risk children may be more likely to develop flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, sinus infections, asthma attacks and dehydration, which may lead to a hospital stay or even death. Parents should be aware of where and when to seek medical care for their child.

Who’s at high risk for developing flu-related complications?

  • Children younger than 2
  • Patients (including children) with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, neurological conditions (i.e., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, seizure disorders), chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders (i.e., sickle cell disease), endocrine disorders (i.e., diabetes mellitus), kidney and liver disorders, metabolic disorders (i.e., G6PD), and weakened immune systems (i.e., cancer)
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults older than 65

When and how can I care for my child at home?

Many children with the flu have fever and are tired, less hungry and uncomfortable…but, if they are previously healthy with mild flu-like symptoms and are interactive (awake, babbling/talking, recognizing family, watching TV), drinking fluids and staying hydrated, as well as tolerating fever/pain medications, caring for them at home would be a safe choice.

Is it time to go to the emergency center?

Knowing when and when not to take a child to an EC can be a difficult and stressful decision for many parents! Parents should seek medical care in an EC if their child exhibits severe, flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing (fast breathing or trouble breathing)
  • Persistent vomiting and not drinking any fluids
  • Dehydration (no tears with crying, dry lips and mouth, no urination in more than eight hours, not waking up or interacting)
  • Poor skin color (pale or bluish skin color)
  • Abnormal or altered behavior
  • Severe pain

For more information, read the full blog post here.

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