Spotting your child’s flu symptoms at every age - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Spotting your child’s flu symptoms at every age

Once kids can tell you how they feel, listen for complaints similar to an adult’s.  © iStockphoto.com Once kids can tell you how they feel, listen for complaints similar to an adult’s. © iStockphoto.com

By Madonna Behen
 

When adults get hit with the flu, there's no mistaking it. You're feverish, your head feels stuffed up and you ache everywhere. But with kids, the signs aren't always as easy to detect.  

"Young children with the flu can run the whole gamut of symptoms," says Dr. Martha Snyder, a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine. "Some children have the mildest of mild symptoms, while for others, symptoms are very severe."

Below is your guide to spotting flu symptoms no matter what your child's age, and ways to bring relief. 

Infants Under Six Months

Babies in the first six months of life are at the greatest risk of complications from the flu, says Snyder, because their immune system is not fully mature yet and their very small airway makes it easy for them to experience respiratory distress.

If your infant has a fever, call your doctor and watch for other signs of illness, such as dehydration. "When babies this age don't feel good, they usually don't want to drink," she adds. Provide plenty of water to keep an infant hydrated.  

Children Six Months to 2 Years

Kids under the age of 2 who come down with the flu often have respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, sneezing), high fevers (sometimes as high as 104 F), diarrhea and vomiting. "But while many kids have all of these symptoms, others may only have one," says Snyder.

Recognizing the early signs in toddlers is especially important, she says, because they can also get dangerously dehydrated very quickly. In addition, because of their smaller airways, babies can quickly progress to having wheezing and labored breath, which requires medication. Signs that a child's breathing is compromised include wheezing, fast breathing or shortness of breath, and nose flaring.

Children 2 to 4 Years

A child who can't talk yet (or can't talk well) obviously can't tell you that his body aches all over, so you need to be alert for behavioral changes, says Snyder. For instance, in many cases, children with the flu will have shaking chills and refuse to walk, because their legs are very achy.

"With kids under the age of 4, you really have to watch them to see how they're acting. Respond to anything that seems out of the ordinary," adds Snyder. "Young kids often have a limp look to them. Or they're so uncomfortable they just want to be held."

Children 4 to 6

Once kids can tell you how they feel, listen for complaints similar to an adult's. But be aware that if your child is under the age of 6, oral over-the-counter cold and flu medications are not recommended. "You should never give children this age decongestants, cough suppressants and other OTC cold remedies, because of the side effects," says Snyder.

But there are other things you can do. "It's OK to give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever or pain reduction," adds Snyder. It's also safe to apply topical soothers to help relieve symptoms. And some children don't mind saline nasal sprays for stuffy noses but be careful not to use them too often (more than six times a day), since overuse can cause swelling of a child's nasal passages.

Other beneficial non-drug treatments for colds and flu include chamomile tea with honey, and a cool mist humidifier. Just be sure to use one that has a humidity gauge and to keep the level at no higher than around 50 percent to avoid a mold problem.

Children Over 6

For children over the age of 6, symptoms are essentially the same as adults'. And at this point, OTC decongestants and cough suppressants are generally safe, although they're not recommended for children with certain health conditions. For instance, if your child is taking medication for ADHD, ask your doctor before giving your kid a decongestant, since the combination of the two drugs has been shown to cause heart problems.

In addition, kids with asthma or any kind of respiratory problem should stay away from cough suppressants, says Snyder, because these products may make it harder for them to clear secretions from their lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.

Madonna Behen writes about women's and children's health for many acclaimed national magazines, including Woman's Day, Women's Health and Real Simple. A mother of three, she was health director of Woman's Day for a decade.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Nasal Spray For Alzheimer's

    Nasal Spray For Alzheimer's

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-23 21:15:11 GMT
    Every 70 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure, but there is new hope. From July 12-17, the greatest minds in Alzheimer’s research gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark discussing the latest breakthroughs and developments in this disease.more>>
    Every 70 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure, but there is new hope. From July 12-17, the greatest minds in Alzheimer’s research gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark discussing the latest breakthroughs and developments in this disease.more>>
  • Drug To Prevent Alzheimer's

    Drug To Prevent Alzheimer's

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:15:05 GMT
    Everyone-- no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not-- with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging. Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.more>>
    Everyone-- no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not-- with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging. Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.more>>
  • Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Monday, July 21 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-21 21:15:13 GMT
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
  • Extreme Workouts

    Extreme Workouts

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:04:23 GMT
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
  • Extreme Skin

    Extreme Skin

    Thursday, July 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-17 21:15:05 GMT
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
  • Extreme Diets

    Extreme Diets

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-16 21:15:07 GMT
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
  • Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-15 21:15:08 GMT
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
  • Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Wednesday, July 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
  • Ankle Replacement

    Ankle Replacement

    Tuesday, July 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-08 21:15:10 GMT
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
  • 3D Knee

    3D Knee

    Monday, July 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-07 21:15:09 GMT
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.