While some children with the flu need medical evaluation immediately, others may safely be cared for at home. Families seeking care in the Cook Children’s Emergency Department shouldn’t be surprised to have long wait times. In the Metroplex, we have seen a surge in flu cases over the past couple of months. Some severe flu disease have been seen, causing busy ERs and full hospitals throughout the area.
If you or your children have a typical flu illness, then they may benefit from treatment for this. However, we would like to keep the Emergency Department available for kids, suffering from complications. Consider calling your doctor or clinic for advice if you have a flu-like illness. We should all work together to keep the number of folks who go with the patient to clinics and the Emergency Department very low. Here are some helpful tips to help you decide if you need to go to the ED or you can wait to see your physician.
Parents can help prevent the spread of infection to practices/clinics this season by keeping their mildly ill children at home, if they have the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100 F or less
- Sore throat
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Diarrhea & vomiting (more common in children)
Children who have the above symptoms are asked to stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and rest. It’s a good idea to call and ask their regular health care provider about treatment for influenza. Parents should call their physicians if they are concerned about their child or if symptoms worsen. They also are advised not to give aspirin to children.
Call or take your child to an Emergency Department or Cook Children’s pediatrician immediately if your child of any age has:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being persistently irritable
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes or asthma) and develops flu-like symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.
The best way for children, and parents alike, to be protected from the flu is to receive a seasonal flu vaccine. Influenza vaccine dramatically reduces the chances of getting the flu. It is especially vital for children to receive the shot.
Even when someone who received flu vaccine does get flu infection, they are still less likely to have serious complications from the illness than those who have not had the shot.
The Cook Children’s Health Care System follows the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for diagnosing and treating the influenza viruses. Per CDC recommendations, parents can let their children return to school once they have been cleared of fever for 24 hours, without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Read more on if your child should go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Department here.
Donald Murphey, M.D., is the medical director of Cook Children’s Infectious Disease.