Parents everywhere are gripping for flu season. We dread the sniffles, coughs, fevers, and aches. While we hate seeing our children sick at home, it can be even more worrisome because we don't want complications to arise, especially because of how dangerous the flu has become in recent years. To be prepared, one of the best things you can do is educate yourself on the flu symptoms, so that if your child does happen to get sick, you can catch it early and take them to the doctor immediately.
Dr. Kristin Dean, associate medical director at Doctor on Demand, outlined many of the common flu symptoms to look for this flu season. "The flu symptoms are consistent each year, despite the fact that circulating flu virus may change," she told POPSUGAR. So what are they exactly? Common flu symptoms are fever, body aches, chills, vomiting, cough, sore throat, secondary ear and sinus infections, and secondary pneumonia. But beyond that, Dr. Dean breaks down myths attached to some of these symptoms.
One of the biggest signs of the flu is a fever (watch for temperatures between 101 to 104 degrees). Another symptom that often accompanies a fever is body aches. There is also the mucus your child may be exhibiting, something you should pay extra close attention to. "Clear mucus can appear with an infection, and colored mucus can be present with allergies," Dr. Dean continued. "That said, if your clear mucus changes to colored mucus, that could be a sign of an infection. Infections can be due to both viruses and bacteria, so mucus does not necessarily indicate the need for an antibiotic."
Another myth about the flu is that it won't cause vomiting or diarrhea. Dr. Dean explains that this simply isn't the case. The flu can bring respiratory symptoms such as coughing and a runny nose, while also giving kids vomiting and diarrhea. She also urges parents to look out for excessive fatigue. From here, check their temperature, and call their pediatrician.
One common fear about flu season is that parents wait too long to take their children to the doctor, something Dr. Dean said is definitely a concern, as pneumonia and dehydration are often complications that come with the flu. "The signs to watch for include difficulty breathing or shallow breathing, not waking up or interacting with you normally, changes to skin color (such as bluish lips), not drinking fluids, not urinating or not producing tears when crying, or persistent high fevers," she explained.
"Not only is it difficult to predict which strains will circulate in advance, but the viruses circulating can change their genetic makeup quickly, not only before the onset of flu season but also during the flu season itself," Dr. Dean concluded. "Due to this, we are not able to tell how severe the circulating viruses will be at the beginning of a season." Dr. Dean advises to get your child the flu shot, and, as always, if your child exhibits any symptoms, to call your pediatrician immediately.