Kids and the Flu: Symptoms, When to Seek Care

Posted on: January 29, 2015

Flu Season’s in High Gear: How to Protect and Care for Your Kids

By Dr. Pete Richel

We are now in the middle of Influenza season (“the Flu”), which is typically October ID-100228285_Boy And Vaccine Syringe by Sura Nualpradidthrough March. Locally we did not see much of this in October and November, but we have seen an increase in flu symptoms in kids as of last month and it is going strong.

Most of the positive cultures are revealing Influenza type A, and even though the Influenza vaccine was not a great match this year, we still encourage all to receive it, since it may be protective against some strains, and we find no significant down side.

All children 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu.
-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It’s not too late to receive this at your doctor’s office. The vaccine is approved for those 6 months of age and older. The classic flu symptoms in kids and adults are:

  • temperature instability (fever) as the body’s immune system fights for us,
  • generalized achiness,
  • and a rather hacking cough.

“…frequent hand washing for patients and their caretakers
will help to prevent contagion.”

When any of these symptoms occur, bring your child to see your pediatrician. We can evaluate them with a physical exam, of course, and we can do a rapid Flu test and make the diagnosis in minutes. If the test is positive, then we can prescribe Tamiflu, a medication which may lessen the severity of symptoms, and may shorten the usual week long course of the illness.

In addition, it is always prudent to keep up with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and the need for hospitalization. And we all know that good frequent hand washing for patients and their caretakers will help to prevent contagion. This is something that you don’t want to share!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “some children are at especially high risk.” Children at greatest risk of serious flu-related complications include the following:
1. Children younger than 6 months old -These children are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to make sure people around them are vaccinated
2. Children ages 6 months up to 5 years old.
3. American Indian and Alaskan Native children.
4. Children with chronic health problems, such as: Asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, Chronic lung disease, Heart disease, Diabetes or a weakened immune system.

By taking precaution you should be able to recognize and avoid flu symptoms in kids. If you have any concerns regarding flu-related symptoms or complications, contact NWH here or call 914-666-1200

Editor’s Note:
Peter Richel, MD, FAAP is Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital. He is a member of Westchester Health Associates and has practiced on Smith Avenue in Mt. Kisco since 1990. Dr. Pete has authored “Happy and Healthy,” a book on wellness in the first year of life, and produced a CD of children’s songs called “Welcome to Dr. Pete’s Office.” Both of these are intended to educate and entertain children and their families.

Dr. Pete, as he’s fondly known, has received numerous recognitions including: Castle Connolly Top Doctor, Top Pediatrician by the Consumer’s Research Council of America and honored with Patients’ Choice Awards and Compassionate Doctor Awards.

Photo Credit: Sura Nualpradid /