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H1N1 Symptoms in Children

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Authored by Donna Johnson in Child and Teen Health
Published on 10-23-2009

As a parent, whenever your child exhibits symptoms of being ill, it can cause you a great deal of worry. Often, it is difficult to determine what illness your child’s symptoms can indicate and when a call to your pediatrician is in order. This is particularly true with the H1N1 virus, as many of the symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu virus. But as more and more cities are reporting cases of H1N1 infection every day, it is important that you know the symptoms.

Fever, headache, body aches, chills, vomiting, cough, and sore throat may all be caused by either the H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu virus. This similarity of symptoms can make it very difficult to tell if your child has H1N1 or the seasonal flu. In fact, children under the age of 5 years old may exhibit very few symptoms at all when infected with H1N1 or the seasonal flu. However, children this young should be closely monitored if they do exhibit any such symptoms, because they are more likely to suffer from a worse case of the flu, whether it’s H1N1 or seasonal flu.

If your child exhibits any of the above listed symptoms, you should call your pediatrician. He or she may have you bring your child in for a diagnosis in person, but will more likely simply have you monitor your child’s symptoms at home. You may get a prescription for medication such as Tamiflu, or you may be told to give over-the-counter medications to your child. If you are told to give over-the-counter fever-reducing medication, never give your child aspirin, as this can result in a rare but deadly condition called Reye’s Syndrome.

While most cases of H1N1 and seasonal flu are mild, a few children will develop serious cases that may become life-threatening. Typically, only cases that become so severe that your child requires hospitalization will actually prompt medical professionals to actually test your child to see if she has H1N1. You should seek immediate emergency medical treatment if your child begins to take in fewer fluids, stops making urine, and has no tears when she cries, as these symptoms can indicate a dangerous level of dehydration. If your child suddenly stops interacting with you or other family members or becomes sluggish or extremely irritable and inconsolable, you should also seek emergency treatment. Other symptoms that require urgent attention are difficulty breathing, change to a blue or gray skin tone, or very high fever.

While many symptoms of H1N1 are the same as those of the seasonal flu, H1N1 is thought to be a far more serious virus. Therefore, if you even suspect that your child may have H1N1, it is vital that you contact your pediatrician right away. Let your pediatrician know that you suspect your child may have H1N1, especially if you know that she has been exposed to it at school or anywhere you’ve recently traveled. This is important information that will help your pediatrician make the right diagnosis and implement a course of treatment to get your child on the road to recovery.

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