Symptoms and Signs of Flu in Children (Childhood Influenza)

Doctor's Notes on Flu in Children (Childhood Influenza)

Flu in children (childhood influenza) is an acute viral infection of the airway and occasionally the lungs, caused by types A, B and C with type A serotypes causing the most severe disease. Signs and symptoms start about 2-4 days after exposure to the virus and include fevers (up to 104 F), chills, muscle aches, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea and in infants less than 6 months may show lethargy, poor feeding and poor circulation. In most children, the symptoms last about 3-4 days and resolve but the cough and tiredness may last longer (1-2 weeks). If symptoms become severe, the child needs to be seen by a pediatric caregiver.

The cause of flu in children are influenza viruses. Many children recover spontaneously; however, some viral serotypes like H1N1 may cause severe disease in more children than other serotypes. The CDC recommends that EVERYONE 6 months of age and older get the yearly flu vaccine.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.