It’s that time of year again—cold and flu season is in full swing. This year we have 3 major culprits to worry about: RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), COVID-19 and Influenza. As a parent, it can be difficult to know when your child’s cold or flu is serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. After all, you don’t want to overreact and take your child to the ER for a minor illness, but you also don’t want to wait too long and risk their health. So, when should you take your child to the hospital for a cold or flu? Read on to find out.
One of the most common symptoms of both colds and flu is fever. A fever itself is not necessarily cause for alarm, but it can be a useful indicator of how serious your child’s illness is. For example, fevers caused by potentially dangerous illnesses like meningitis or sepsis will usually be quite high—usually 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 celsius) or higher. In contrast, fevers caused by minor illnesses like the common cold will usually be lower—between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3-38.9 celsius). Of course, every child is different, so if you’re ever unsure whether your child’s fever is cause for concern, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and give your healthcare provider a call.
Fever can be beneficial
Fever may actually be beneficial to a child as it is a natural response of the immune system that helps to fight infection. Fever increases the body’s temperature, which in turn helps to kill bacteria and viruses. It also causes the body to release more white blood cells, which helps to fight infection. In some cases, fever may even help to shorten the duration of an illness. For these reasons, it is important not to treat fever too aggressively and instead allow the body to work naturally to combat infection.
Coughing and Sneezing
Another common symptom of colds and flu is coughing and sneezing. These symptoms are usually nothing to worry about—they’re just your body’s natural response to trying to get rid of the virus. However, if your child is having difficulty breathing or their cough sounds particularly harsh or wet, this could be a sign of something more serious, like pneumonia. If you’re concerned about your child’s coughing or sneezing, it’s always best to consult with their doctor.
For minor cough and sore throat, there are many effective naturopathic options. Some of my favorites include: Elderberry syrup, honey, propolis, nin jiom herbal syrup, Ivy leaf and thyme based syrups. If a cough/sore throat is particularly bad at nighttime children’s Advil and or Benadryl can help with symptom relief; however, it is a good idea to consult your doctor prior to usage.
Body aches are another common symptom of both colds and flu. Usually, these aches are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own in a few days. However, if your child seems especially uncomfortable or if they’re having difficulty moving around due to pain, this could be a sign that they have something more serious like rheumatic fever. As always, if you’re concerned about your child’s health, it’s best to consult with their healthcare provider.
Cold and flu season can be tough for parents who want to do everything they can to keep their children healthy but don’t want to overreact every time they get a little sniffle. Hopefully this article has given you some guidance on when to take your child to the hospital for a cold or flu. Remember: if you’re ever unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and give your pediatrician a call. They would be more than happy to help you figure out whether or not your child needs medical attention.