Frequently Asked Questions
Are flu symptoms different for children?
Flu symptoms are similar in children and adults and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur and are more common in children than adults. Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
When should I seek medical care for my child if they have the flu?
Children experiencing the following symptoms should get medical care right away:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Blue-colored lips or face
- Ribs pulling in with each breath
- Chest pain
- Severe muscle pain
- Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
- Not alert or interacting when awake
- Fever above 104 °F
- Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- Worsening of medical conditions
- Any other emergency signs or symptoms
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Is the flu dangerous in children?
Children are at risk during every flu season. Children younger than 5 years old (especially those younger than 2) are at high risk of getting very sick from the flu and commonly need medical care because of the flu. Some complications from the flu in children can include:
- Pneumonia (an illness where the lungs get infected and inflamed)
- Dehydration (when a child’s body loses too much water and salts)
- Worsening of long-term medical problems like heart disease or asthma
- Issues with brain functioning
- Sinus problems and ear infections
- In rare cases, flu complications can be fatal
What is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), and how is it related to COVID-19?
New evidence suggests that children who have or have had COVID-19 may develop an inflammatory condition similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome up to 4 weeks after their infection. This condition is called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). If you suspect that your child has symptoms of this inflammatory syndrome (fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, eye redness, or feeling overly tired), be sure to see your child’s healthcare provider right away. The good news is that this condition is treatable when caught early.