Flu season is serious for people in at-risk groups. And for parents of young children, it can be scary to watch your child suffer through the sometimes severe symptoms. In the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC documented 188 child deaths resulting from the flu in the United States. That might not seem like a huge number, but a single death is too much when you’re talking about children dying.
Part of preventing death from the flu means providing access to medical care. But how do you know when to treat with fluids and over-the-counter medicine at home and when to go into a CHP clinic to see a medical professional? Here are some signs it’s time to make an appointment.
Before your child even gets sick, it’s essential to think ahead for flu season. Flu shots are available—and recommended—for children six months and older. And if your child has other health conditions or lives with someone who does, like a parent or grandparent, it’s even more critical that they get vaccinated.
The flu shot does not give you the flu, though your child might experience mild symptoms for a day or two following the injection. But it does help protect against the most common strains that season. And that can keep a vulnerable child from getting seriously sick or passing the disease along to a loved one with an underlying condition. Heading into a CHP clinic at the start of the flu season to get vaccinated can help protect your child all winter. Most insurance covers the flu shot. That makes it its own insurance, potentially avoiding further medical costs if it prevents them from getting seriously ill.
You’ve probably had the flu before or seen someone who has. It isn’t fun and can take a toll on your body. But most of the time, dealing with the fever, body aches, and headaches is manageable, especially with over-the-counter medication. But when the symptoms get more severe, it can cause concern. That might look like a high fever at or above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Or it could be difficulty breathing or chest pain. They might also have pain or pressure in the chest or belly or severe or repeated vomiting. All of those are causes to call your closest CHP clinic for advice on where to seek medical care—at the clinic or the emergency room.
The flu can last for a while, from a day or two to an entire week. And mild symptoms might linger even longer as they recover. But if your child’s symptoms stay the same or worsen in that time, it’s time to go into your nearest CHP clinic to check in with your provider.
If some time has passed in their illness and new symptoms develop, it’s good to contact your primary care provider. Maybe they started with a fever and then developed a severe body ache when you expected they should be feeling better. Or vomiting leads to signs of dehydration if they can’t keep fluids down. New symptoms might be cause for concern, and you should call your provider at CHP to see if you should come in.
Not feeling well is draining, and young children might not understand what’s happening. But if your child is screaming, crying, and can’t be consoled, it’s probably time to call your provider. Especially if your child is at an age where they can’t communicate verbally, this can indicate that their illness is more severe than you might have thought.
If your primary care provider is unavailable and you’re concerned for your child’s health, you should go to urgent care or the emergency room. But by contacting CHP about an appointment or speaking with a provider about their symptoms, you may save time and find peace of mind before the flu becomes an emergency.