- Your child has symptoms of influenza (Flu) and it's in your community
- Main symptoms: fever AND one or more respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, very runny nose)
- Influenza (Flu) is a viral infection
- You think your child has influenza because other family members have it
- You think your child has influenza because close friends have it
Symptoms of Influenza
- Main symptoms are a fever with a runny nose, sore throat, and bad cough.
- More muscle pain, headache, fever, and chills than with usual colds.
- If there is no fever, your child probably doesn't have flu. More likely he has a cold.
Cause of Influenza
- Influenza viruses that change yearly
Diagnosis: How to Know Your Child Has Influenza
- Influenza occurs every year in the fall and winter months. During this time, if flu symptoms occur, your child probably has the flu.
- Your child doesn't need any special tests.
- Call your doctor if your child is High-Risk for complications of the flu. See the list below. These are the children who may need prescription anti-viral drugs.
- For Low-Risk children, usually you don't need to see your child's doctor. If your child develops a possible complication of the flu, then call your doctor. See the "What to Do" section.
High-Risk Children for Complications From Influenza (AAP)
Children are considered High-Risk for complications if they have any of the following:
- Lung disease (such as asthma)
- Heart disease (such as a congenital heart disease)
- Cancer or weak immune system conditions
- Neuromuscular disease (such as muscular dystrophy)
- Diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease or liver disease
- Diseases needing long-term aspirin therapy
- Pregnancy or severe obesity
- Healthy children under 2 years old are also considered High-Risk (CDC)
- Note: All other children are referred to as Low-Risk
Prescription Antiviral Drugs for Influenza
- Antiviral drugs (such as Tamiflu) are sometimes used to treat influenza. They must be started within 48 hours when the flu symptoms start. After 48 hours of fever, starting the drug is not helpful.
- The AAP recommends they be used for any patient with severe symptoms.
- The AAP recommends the drugs for most High-Risk children with underlying health problems. See that list.
- The AAP doesn't recommend antiviral drugs for Low-Risk children with mild flu symptoms.
- Their benefits are limited. They usually reduce the time your child is sick by 1 to 1.5 days. They reduce the symptoms, but do not make them go away.
- Side effects: Vomiting in 10% of children on Tamiflu.
- Most healthy children with flu do not need an antiviral drug.