A vast majority of children with the flu have illness that can be managed at home, said a pediatric emergency medicine physician from Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Andrea Cruz, an assistant professor of pediatrics – emergency medicine and infectious diseases at BCM and an emergency medicine physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, suggested parents do not panic and rush their child to the emergency room if they suspect the flu.
"If an older, healthy child is suspected by the family of having the flu and that child is not having difficulty breathing, and is continuing to eat and drink well, then the family should start by seeking care at their pediatrician's office," said Cruz. "This will entail waiting for a much shorter period of time than if they were to come straight to the emergency room with mild illness."
Any child with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, immunodeficiency or a child that has central lines (long tubes inserted in the neck, chest, arm or leg are used to give fluids or drugs, take blood samples, or monitor pressure inside arteries of the heart) should seek care emergently whenever they have fever, Cruz said.
"We also recommend that children younger than 2 months seek care if they have fever greater than 100.4 or for children 2-24 months, fever greater than or equal to 102.2," said Cruz. "However, this care does not need to be sought in the emergency room if children are breathing and feeding well. "
Cruz said flu feels different than the average cold, with muscle aches, sore throat, and generally feeling very run down being some of the most common symptoms aside from fever.
Get a flu shot
She reminded that flu is preventable and while no vaccine is 100 percent effective, the flu vaccine this year is a good match for the viral strains circulating in the community.
"It is not too late for families to get immunized. The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza disease, and vaccinating is the best way to prevent spread of influenza in the community and in the home."