When Should Your Child Go to Urgent Care for Cold and Flu Symptoms

cold and flu symptoms

Every year, between 5% and 20% of the American population will get the flu.

The majority of those people will recover on their own with some bed rest and fluids. But, for children, the consequences of the flu can be far more severe.

Knowing when cold and flu symptoms warrant a visit to urgent care is essential to caring for your child. As flu season kicks in and the potential for your child becoming ill increases, it’s imperative that you know the difference between regular symptoms and those that put your child in harm’s way.

Keep reading to learn more about the seasonal flu, how it affects children, and how to keep your child safe this cold and flu season.

Children and the Flu

Children under the age of 5 are especially at risk if they contract the seasonal flu. This age group is a very high risk for severe flu-related complications. These flu-related complications include:

  • Dehydration
  • Brain dysfunction
  • Pneumonia
  • Long-term medical problems (i.e heart disease or asthma)
  • Sinus problems

Although death is also a potential complication, this only occurs in very severe ad very rare cases.

Common Flu Symptoms

The flu causes a wide range of symptoms. Depending on the individual, their age, their health, and other factors, these symptoms may be mild to severe. Typical symptoms include:

  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Headaches
  • Runny/stuffed nose
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting

If your child has any of the above symptoms, it’s unlikely that they’ll need to go to urgent care for cold and flu. These symptoms are treated at home with something as simple as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Make sure they also get plenty of clear fluids and rest, as well.

When Urgent Care Is Needed for Cold and Flu Symptoms

If your child has any of the below symptoms, then you should take them to urgent or emergency care immediately. These symptoms are:

  • Cyanosis
  • Dehydration
  • Fast/labored breathing
  • Irritability
  • Return of flu symptoms after apparent recovery
  • Cold and flu symptoms that won’t go away
  • Severe lethargy

Don’t forget to take a few essential items before heading to urgent or emergency care. You’ll need your insurance and identification, a list of any medication your child takes, and any recent test results, as well as the contact information for your regular pediatrician.

Protecting Against the Flu

Perhaps the best way to keep your child safe and healthy is to ensure they get their flu shot every year. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu. The vaccine not only reduces illness, but it also reduces missed school days, doctor’s visits, and the risk of hospitalization.

Children as young as 6 months old can get their vaccination. They should get it every year by the end of October, according to the CDC.

The Best Urgent Care Center Near You

‘Tis the season for cold and flu and, as a parent, you need to know that children have a higher risk of flu-related complications. You should also know the difference between normal cold and flu symptoms and severe symptoms that require a trip to urgent care.

Armed with that knowledge you can take care of the best possible care of your child. And when it’s time to seek professional care, contact us or just walk in.