According to the US Centers for Disease Control, most children will get better from the flu without needing to go to the doctor. But some other children may have pre-existing conditions or more severe illness from the flu that puts them at higher risk. A child of any age with severe signs of the flu should go to the doctor.
According to the CDC, children with asthma, diabetes and a long list of other conditions that can impact a child's ability to fight the flu should consult a physician if the child get sick.
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Children under two are also a higher risk and should be seen.
For other children, who usually recover from illness without problems, there are times when you might want to seek urgent care or call your pediatrician:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids (not going to the bathroom or not making as much urine as they normally do)
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
What is, and is not, the flu:
Many parents believe the flu is marked by vomiting and diarrhea. While these can be symptoms that come with the flu, they are more often the markers of common stomach virus'.
When doctors and health officials talk about the flu, they are describing a severe illness that is more like the common cold on steroids. The flu is a viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs. It is marked by coughing, sneezing, sore throat, fever, chills and body aches. The fever can go on for several days. Nausea and vomiting are not primary symptoms of the flu.