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Influenza - Seasonal

Disponible En Espanol


  • Influenza (Flu) is a viral infection
  • The nose, throat, and upper parts of the lungs are involved
  • You think your child has influenza because other family members
  • You think your child has influenza because close friends have it
  • You think your child has influenza and it's all around in the community


  • Main symptoms are a runny nose, sore throat, bad cough and fever.
  • More muscle pain, headache, fever, and chills than with usual colds.
  • If there is NO fever, the child probably doesn't have flu. More likely he has a cold.


  • Influenza viruses that change yearly

Diagnosis: How to Know Your Child Has Influenza

  • Influenza occurs every year in the fall and winter months. During this time, if flu symptoms occur, your child probably has the flu.
  • Your child doesn't need any special tests.
  • Call your doctor if your child is HIGH-RISK for complications of the flu. See the list below. These are the children who may need prescription anti-viral drugs.
  • For LOW-RISK children, usually you don't need to see your child's doctor. If your child develops a possible complication of the flu, then call your doctor. See the "When to Call Your Doctor" section.

HIGH-RISK Children for Complications From Influenza

Children are considered HIGH-RISK for complications if they have any of the following:

  • Lung disease (such as asthma)
  • Heart disease (such as a congenital heart disease)
  • Cancer or weak immune system conditions
  • Neuromuscular disease (such as muscular dystrophy)
  • Diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease OR liver disease
  • Diseases needing long-term aspirin therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Healthy children under 2 years old are also considered HIGH-RISK (CDC 2009)
  • Note: All other children are referred to as LOW-RISK

Prescription Antiviral Drugs for Influenza

  • Antiviral drugs (such as Tamiflu) are sometimes used to treat influenza. They must be started within 48 hours when the flu symptoms start.
  • The AAP recommends they be used for any patient with severe symptoms. They also recommend the drugs for most HIGH-RISK children. See that list.
  • The AAP doesn't recommend antiviral drugs for LOW-RISK children with mild flu symptoms.
  • Their benefits are limited. They usually reduce the time your child is sick by 1 to 1.5 days. They reduce the symptoms, but do not make them go away.
  • Side effects: Vomiting in 10% of children.

Return to School

  • Your child can return to school after the fever is gone for 24 hours. Your child should feel well enough to join in normal activities.
  • Spread is rapid. The time it takes to get the flu after contact is about 2 days. The range is 1 to 4 days. The virus is easily passed to others.


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

The search for nearby emergency and urgent care facilities is based upon Google search parameters. You will get results based on how facilities manage their website information.

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