All About Pediatric Flu: Signs & Symptoms

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the signs, symptoms and treatments available for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.

This year I have teamed up with Med-IQ to help generate awareness around pediatric flu symptoms and treatment options. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. 

I never knew how dangerous the flu can be for children.

All About Pediatric Flu: Signs & Symptoms

Each year, millions of children contract influenza and thousands are hospitalized. Many cases result in death, especially for children under five years old. Many people confuse the flu with COVID-19, and for good reason. They share similar symptoms. In fact, I’ve recently learned the important differences that I will fill you in on today.

All About Pediatric Flu: Signs & Symptoms
Rumi got her first flu vaccine at 7 months old!

All About Pediatric Flu

Signs and Symptoms of Influenza

Often, parents and caregivers aren’t aware of the signs of the flu and therefore do not seek medical attention quickly enough. But getting your child to the pediatrician early can make all the difference. In fact, it can help prevent even further complications such as ear infections or pneumonia. Early intervention can prevent the flu from spreading to other members of the family as well. Here are some common signs and symptoms of pediatric influenza:

  • fever
  • body aches
  • deep couch

There are more serious symptoms that should receive medical attention immediately such as:

  • fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • bluish lips or face
  • ribs pulling in with each breath
  • chest pain
  • severe muscle pain
  • dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, and/or no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F (or any fever in children less than 12 weeks)

Differentiating Between the Flu and COVID-19

It can be very difficult to determine which symptoms may lead to the flu vs. COVID-19, or even simply a common cold. The biggest difference is that with a common cold, you may experience a cough and/or head congestion. However, a fever or shortness of breath is typically uncommon.  If your child is experiencing those symptoms, it is most likely something more than  a cold. Differentiating between the flu and COVID-19 becomes a bit more complicated, which is why taking action with your child’s pediatrician early on is so important.  They both can have varying degrees of symptoms, ranging from no signs at all to severe. Here are common symptoms that COVID-19 and the flu share according to the CDC:

  • fever
  • chills
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • headaches
  • vomiting or diarrhea (most common in adults than children)
All About Pediatric Flu: Signs & Symptoms

Taking Preventative Measures

While keeping up with important hygiene routines such as hand washing are helpful, there are other measures that can be taken as well. In fact, the influenza vaccine is the number one preventative measure parents can take. This vaccine is for children ages six months and older. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot in early fall. As a mom, I know it’s not fun to take your child to get a vaccine. But it’s well worth the trip if it prevents being sick later.

One preventative measure is to call your pediatric office to learn their protocol for treatment ahead of time. This will allow you to be familiar with their process, and be confident in spotting possible symptoms in a family member. Another important preventative measure to take is wearing a mask. In addition, wearing a mask prevents you from touching your nose and mouth.

Since we are in a pandemic, it’s more important than ever to be proactive with prevention. Doctors have noted that many people are hesitant to go to doctors and may be avoiding preventative care. Early treatment is so important when it comes to pediatric influenza. Remember, the flu does have treatment options. And antiviral medications can also greatly reduce complications if taken promptly.

kids flu season

Anonymous Survey

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with pediatric influenza, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.

You can take the survey here. 

Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

Join the Conversation

Keep Reading

View more