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Flu Alert: 6 Signs Your Child May Have the Flu

Written by Shadi Salehyar

Influenza (flu) is a common and contagious viral infection that causes high fever, body aches, a cough and other symptoms. Most adults have caught the flu at some point in their lives and over time, have toughened their immune systems and built immunity. However, the same cannot be said for children. Young children are most at risk of serious complications from the flu.

When your child catches the flu, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. Getting treatment within the first 48 hours can help lead to a speedy recovery, but how do you know if what your child has caught is the flu and not just a bad strain of the common cold? Families Together has you covered. We’ve put together this guide on how you can spot symptoms of the flu in your child.

High Fever

One of the more obvious symptoms of the flu is a high fever. The virus thrives in normal human body temperatures. In order to combat this, the immune system will raise the temperature of the body to kill it off. Check to see if your child’s temperature is over 100° F as this is considered the baseline for a fever. Flu temperatures can range from 103° F to 105° F.

Headaches and Other Body Aches

When you have the flu, your immune system jumps into action, releasing white blood cells to fight it off. This causes your muscles to ache or feel sore, which may cause difficulty trying to move. Headaches are also a very common symptom of the flu that are typically absent with the common cold. If part of your child’s symptoms include body aches or headaches, you may want to start seeking flu treatment.

Severe Dry Cough

When your child is infected by the flu, they will suffer from a dry cough. This means that the cough will not produce mucus which will lead to your child’s throat and chest feeling sore. A flu cough also tends to be much more severe than a cold cough, but the telling sign is whether or not it’s dry.

Extreme Fatigue

Another symptom of the flu is sudden weakness or extreme fatigue. This is due to the amount of energy it takes for the immune system to rid itself of the virus. Most children will recover from flu symptoms in about a week, but fatigue can remain for as long as 3 to 4 weeks. Extreme fatigue, accompanied by other symptoms on this list, can be a sign that your child has caught the flu.

Loss of Appetite

When your child has a cold, their symptoms will be less severe and their appetite should be normal. If your child is experiencing the flu, their bodies will use all their energy to fight off the virus, including energy that would normally be used for digesting food. This will result in a loss of appetite. If your child is feeling so unwell that they cannot eat, this could mean the sickness they are experiencing is the flu.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are flu symptoms that are more common in children than they are in adults. Both are unlikely to occur if your child has a cold. Of course, these symptoms on their own could be the result of stomach flu, but if your child is vomiting or has diarrhea alongside other symptoms in this list, you may want to seek flu treatment.

If your child is suffering from the flu, make sure they’re staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest and try to schedule a doctor’s appointment for them as soon as possible. Families Together offers both treatment for the flu and flu vaccines as a preventative measure. Patients may request an appointment on our website’s appointment page or give us a call at 1(800) 597-7977.