An estimated 8% of the U.S. population gets the flu each year. Learn tips for preventing the flu in children.
The number one way to prevent flu in kids is to ensure everyone in your family (over 6 months old) receives the flu shot.
Here are some more ways you can help prevent flu in kids and keep your family healthy during flu season:
- Practice good hand hygiene with soap and water or hand sanitizer
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as germs spread this way
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people
- Stay home from school, work and errands when you are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Symptoms of the flu
At first, the flu can be easily mistaken for a common cold. If your symptoms come on very quickly, it's more likely to be the flu.
Flu symptoms in children include:
- Fever, feverish chills or sweats
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue and weakness
- Vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children than adults
When to go to the hospital for flu
The flu can usually be treated at home with rest and lots of liquids. However, complications from the illness can be serious or even life-threatening for certain children. Very young children and those with chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes have an increased risk for problems associated with the flu.
If you are concerned about your child's symptoms, you should call your primary care doctor first. They understand your child's medical history and specific needs best.
If your child has any of the following symptoms, promptly take them to the ER:
- Difficulty breathing
- Unresponsive or not interacting
- Fever with rash
- Excessive or severe vomiting
- Won't drink liquids
- Blue or gray skin coloring
- Appears dehydrated with dry lips, sunken eyes or decreased urination
- Flu-like symptoms that have improved, but return with a fever and worse cough
Like with older children, it is often better for parents to take their newborn to a pediatrician rather than the ER unless they are exhibiting any of the following behaviors:
- Unable to eat
- Trouble breathing
- No tears when crying
- Irritable and does not want to be held
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal