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Recognizing Signs of Flu in Children

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The signs and symptoms of flu in your child vary, as does the treatment. During the flu season, most parents are concerned about whether their child is suffering from the flu or not. So let’s understand about flu in children and everything you should know about this flu season to keep your child in the pink of health.

Understanding the Flu in Children

Flu (Influenza) is a common respiratory tract infection that is caused by an influenza virus. It primarily affects the throat and nose, but in some cases, the lungs can also be affected.

Flu in the small ones can bring a cough, a high fever, and body aches. This generally does not last for more than a week, and so the condition can be severe if your child has had the flu for more than a week.

What Causes the Flu in a Child?

Now we already know that the flu in children is caused by an influenza virus. However, most commonly influenza viruses that affect children are these 3 types. Let’s discuss each of them.

Flu type A and B

These viruses affect children on a seasonal basis; most of the time, it is during winter. The symptoms are very severe, even for type A and B influenza viruses, and they sometimes cause epidemics, leading to the death of many people on an annual basis. So yes, the type A and B influenza viruses are concerning.

Influenza type-C

The next one is the type-C influenza virus. Compared with the former two types, type-C influenza virus causes very mild respiratory infections in children. The virus is not strong and hence normally does not create an epidemic.

What are 5 Symptoms of Flu in Children

Symptoms in children may not be as in adults infected with the flu, which highlights the need to be on the lookout for them earlier so that treatment on your child can be initiated before it gets severe.

Hence, let’s check out the 5 typical symptoms your child may exhibit if they have the flu.


High fever can be considered to be the first symptom of flu in your children. Besides, this is one of the most common symptoms in different kinds of flu. The fever range for flu in children can be as high as 103°F (39.4°C).

Respiratory Symptoms

Coughing, sneezing, and sore throat are some Respiratory symptoms such as cough, sneezing, or sore throat may be experienced by your child if he/she contracts the flu.

Coughing, in particular, can be dry, and it may even worsen at night in the case of children. And you can also find the common symptom of sneezing in your kids in the early days of flu.

Nasal Symptoms

Another common symptom seen in children with flu is a runny or stuffy nose. The nasal discharge from the nose of flu-affected children can sometimes be coloured and thick at times.

Body Aches and Fatigue

Consider body aches especially the legs and back with fatigue as flu signs in your children. Discomfort and fatigue, together with other symptoms, may also persist in children for several days. 

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Nevertheless, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not very frequent in the case of gastrointestinal involvement, although some children do complain of having an upset stomach when they catch the flu. This gives them the feeling of nausea and vomiting. You may also find loose or watery stools and diarrhea in some cases in the case of the children. So, you can consider it when looking for other symptoms in your children.

How Do You Know If Your Child Has The Flu?

It is difficult to ascertain whether your child has the flu or some other disorder. However, here is an easy method for differentiating flu from cold and other infections.

For a proper observation let us compare the common symptoms that may confuse you.


Kids catch fever in the cold and flu. But the essential difference between the two diseases is that, as for the flu, children with it have a very high fever that can even reach 103°F (39.4°C). Whereas, children have a low fever when they have a cold.

Respiratory Symptoms 

In colds and other allergic conditions, there are no serious signs of respiratory symptoms in children. However, children with the influenza virus mainly show symptoms of a critical nature in respiration, which include the emergence of cough, frequent sneezing, and in some cases, chest pains.

Duration and Onset

Allergies can be easily differentiated from flu because the children show allergic symptoms only at the time of contact with the allergen. As regards colds, in children also symptoms develop, but even then very slowly and mildly. Whereas children with flu tend to develop severe symptoms on the very first day.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Now the gastrointestinal symptoms of the children are very much specific to the flu. The symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are usually not seen in the children with any allergies or colds.

Seasonal Patterns

Flu usually affects children only seasonally; this is one of the differences from allergies and cold, which usually catch children all year round.

When to Worry About Flu in a child?

Your child may be at increased risk for severe flu symptoms if they:

  • If your children are young, like under 5 years, then they are at risk for severe flu symptoms. This is because small children have an immune system that is developing. 
  • Also, consider taking care of your child in cases of chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, or any heart disease. These may be complications in your child’s health with flu due to their less effective immune system. 

Complications of flu in children 

A few complications include:

  • The flu can make children very sick from serious complications that can result in pneumonia, thus causing difficulty in breathing and pain in the chest. 
  • Inflammation of the bronchial tubes puts children at the risk of getting bronchitis. 
  • Sometimes the children are susceptible to ear infections and afterward suffer from ear pains and hearing difficulties.

Prevention Strategies

‘’Prevention is better than cure.’ We all know this saying too well, and when we are able to follow it, surely the flu that is very common, particularly among children, can be prevented.

Measures for the prevention of flu and similar symptoms involve three strategies: vaccination, hygiene, and environmental.


  • The influenza virus types A and B mutate and change every year. So, the best prevention for such viruses is to get your kids vaccinated every year.
  • The vaccination can help alleviate the severity of symptoms and complications.
  • It can also reduce the likelihood of having to go to the hospital, especially for children who are already suffering from other diseases.

Hygiene Practices

  • You can encourage your children to wash their hands with soap and water as a way of discouraging the high percentage of alcohol concentration in their hands.
  • Children can be encouraged to wear masks when they are outside and to cover their mouths when sneezing.
  • Don’t go to crowded places with your children during flu season. This will help keep you from getting the flu.

Environmental Measures

  • Attempt to regularly disinfect and clean your home’s frequently touched surfaces and items.
  • Do not share personal things, such as towels, eating utensils, or drinking cups with your children.
  • Always make sure your house is well-ventilated with open windows or by some other means to prevent the clogging of airborne viruses.

How Long Does the flu Last in a Child?

The period within which your children can recover from a flu varies with previous health history and the seriousness of the condition of your child. Yet, if your children have no other health complications, it will barely last from 1 to 2 weeks.

When to Consult a Healthcare Professional?

  • If the fever in your child raises above 100.4°F or 38°C, and this goes on for a couple of days, then you need to see your doctor.
  • If a child is experiencing severe difficulty breathing, chest pain, and any other severe respiratory symptoms, talk with a professional health care professional.
  • If your child already has any health condition such as asthma or heart disease, you need to see a healthcare professional.

Home Remedies for flu in Child 

  • Sufficient rest will enable the children to recover from the flu and its symptoms quickly.
  • Ensure your kids are hydrated to replenish all the fluids lost during the exams.
  • Administer nasal saline to your children to prevent respiratory tract-related problems. Provide the child with comfort, support, and warm fluids and foods that are soothing.
  •  In addition, a humidifier can be set up to help clear congestion and allow the child to breathe more freely.
  • You can also give over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and relieve other discomforts, such as headache and body aches.

Parting Words

Now you would understand influenza, the types, and the symptoms which you could recognize in your kids with the flu. Next to this, we discussed the preventive strategies and measures to differentiate influenza from other illnesses. Use this guide for all your confusion regarding flu in your children. Always try to follow the prevention measures to keep your child from getting the flu this flu season.

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