When to Seek Medical Care for Your Child's Flu

Jun 07, 2024
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Flu infections are common, and it’s easy to think catching the flu is no big deal. But for many kids, flu infections lead to complications. Knowing what symptoms to look out for can help you decide when it’s time to call our office.

Every year, millions of Americans are infected by the influenza (flu) virus, including plenty of children. While most people overcome the infection without serious problems, the flu can pose special concerns for kids, especially when they’re very young — every year in the United States, about 20,000 kids under the age of five are hospitalized with the flu.

Having a flu shot every year dramatically decreases the risk your child will become infected with the flu virus, and if they do, the vaccine can help prevent serious complications. In fact, research shows most serious flu infections in children are among kids who aren’t vaccinated, including kids who don’t have any underlying health issues.

While many flu infections respond well to rest and fluids, there are certainly times when your child needs medical intervention. 

As a leading provider of pediatric health care in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii, our expert team at Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy offers some simple tips to help you decide when it’s time to seek medical care for your child’s flu symptoms.

Flu: Infection and symptoms

Flu infection is caused by a virus that’s highly contagious and easily spread from one person to another. Flu can be spread through coughing or sneezing, or by touching a surface where the flu germs are present, then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. Regular hand-washing and surface disinfectants can help prevent flu transmission.

There are multiple “types” of flu virus, and every year, researchers develop vaccines to fight against the strains that are predicted to be most active that year. These vaccines play a critical role in preventing flu infection. However, vaccines aren’t designed to fight off every subtype, which is why there’s always a risk you can still “catch” the flu even if you’re vaccinated.

Knowing what flu symptoms are like can help you ensure your child receives appropriate care as early as possible following infection. In kids, common flu symptoms include:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Significant fatigue and malaise

Sometimes, the flu causes nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In kids, these symptoms can quickly lead to dehydration, which in turn can become a serious and even life-threatening health risk.

When it’s time to call our office

While a mild flu infection typically responds well to rest and fluids, the flu can become serious very quickly. Always give us a call if your infant or toddler has the flu, or if your child also has a chronic health issue like asthma. You should also call our office if your ill child:

  • Has a high fever
  • Has a fever that’s getting worse
  • Has a fever that lasts more than three days
  • Develops a rash 
  • Is vomiting or has diarrhea
  • Has a severe headache or stiff neck
  • Has congestion that makes breathing difficult
  • Refuses to drink fluids
  • Isn’t urinating as much as usual
  • Is agitated or showing signs of moodiness
  • Is unusually listless or sleepy

You should call 911 if your child has severe trouble breathing, has a seizure, is confused, or is limp or unresponsive.

Because kids’ health needs vary so much from adults, if you suspect your child has the flu, it’s always a good idea to call the office to see if your child needs to be seen by our team. We offer both on-site visits and telehealth appointments, so your child can get the care they need without leaving the comfort of their own home.

Keeping your child healthy

Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality, customized care for your child’s unique health needs. To make sure your child receives the best flu care possible, book an appointment online or over the phone with Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii, today.