When to take your child to a doctor
If your child is experiencing flu-like symptoms, contact your primary care provider before visiting an emergency room or urgent care clinic. If you don’t have a primary care provider, we can help you find one – visit our Find a Doctor page to search for a doctor near you.
Children with moderate flu symptoms do not always need to go to their doctor’s office or the emergency department if they are not alarmingly ill or considered high risk for complications. However, it’s important to monitor your child’s symptoms closely.
“Parents know their kids better than anyone,” says Chris Nyquist, MD, medical director of infection control at Children’s. “They need to trust their gut and call their pediatrician when they’re concerned.”
Children with moderate flu-like symptoms who go to an emergency room may have to wait several hours to see a physician, increasing the risk for greater infection or illness. The health department recommends parents call their physician or usual source of care if possible before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room.
Signs that a child needs to see a healthcare provider:
- Your child looks or acts very sick (trust your instincts)
- Breathing becomes difficult or fast
- Dehydration occurs (no urine in 12 hours, dry mouth, no tears)
- Your child has bluish skin color
- Your child is not waking up or not interacting
- Your child is being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash occurs
Get more flu resources.