Pediatric Influenza, Symptoms and Treatment

The peak flu season is December – February and each year millions of children, especially children under the age of 5, contract influenza resulting in many being hospitalized and even dead. A few months ago we shared how you can recognize the symptoms of the flu and today we want to share with you the ways that pediatric influenza can be treated. 

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own. 

Pediatric Influenza, Symptoms and Treatment


As a mother and a former medic, getting a yearly flu shot is something that we take seriously. The flu doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t care if you’re black, white, yellow, rich, or poor. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 6% to 12% of children seek care for influenza-related illness each year. 

It is important that you recognize the symptoms of the flu so that you can seek medical care for your little ones, as it’s important that your child receives the care that they need promptly to prevent further complications such as pneumonia or ear infections. Not only does a delay in treatment increase their risk of more serious influenza-related complications, but it also increases the risk for those who are high-risk in your household. Seeking medical care early and getting the antiviral treatment that they need helps diminish that risk, especially when administered within 48hrs of the onset of symptoms.

So what are the symptoms? Let’s recap.

  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea – more common in children than adults

However, it’s imperative that you visit a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms.

  • Fast or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions


There are currently four FDA-approved antiviral drugs that are currently recommended by the CDC to treat the flu this season. 

  • Baloxavir marboxil – a one-pill-a-day treatment. 
  • Oseltamivir phosphate (5-day pill also known as Tamiflu)
  • Peramivir  
  • Zanamivir  

These drugs are recommended for use as soon as possible for those with suspected or confirmed influenza who are: 

  • hospitalized
  • has severe, complicated, or progressive illness; or
  • are at higher risk for influenza complications (children under the age fo 5 years old)


If received early, the duration of the symptoms decrease, and data has shown that patients at high risk of influenza complications can not only reduce the duration of symptoms, but also the risk of some complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Hospitalization rates decline as well as the mortality rate. 


My mother has always insisted that prevention is a whole lot better than a cure. So how do you avoid getting the flu, or even prevent those in your household from getting infected? 

  • Wash your hands often and for at least 30 seconds with warm water and soap. In the event that soap and water aren’t available, the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a great alternative.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Social distance as much as you can, and with COVID-19 on the forefront, wear a mask. 
  • If you are sick, stay at home and from school, and try to minimize the amount of time you need to be around others. 
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze, use the inside of your arm or tissue and dispose of used tissues immediately. 

If you or any member of your household thinks that they may have been exposed to the flu, it may be necessary to begin treatment immediately, especially for those who are at risk of flu complications. Call your doctor right away as he will be able to advise you as to the best course of action. While you may be tempted to seek out information online, your best reliable source is your doctor. 

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with pediatric influenza, which will help develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize, and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative. 

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