Pre-Existing Conditions Can Put Children at Risk for Flu Complications

Child with flu symptoms

Nearly every child will get the flu occasionally, but many children’s bodies are able to fight it off in just a few days and with only minimal discomfort. But when children with chronic health conditions get the flu, hospitalization and even death can result. Additionally, the CDC has noted that children under two years of age and individuals of American Indian and Alaska Native descent are also more prone to flu-related complications.

This article will explain why certain pre-existing medical conditions put children at a higher risk of influenza complications and troublesome symptoms to watch out for. Children with these conditions may require extra attention when they have the flu to ensure that a simple sickness doesn’t turn into something much worse.


The most common pre-existing condition in children that leads to flu complications is asthma. Many children develop asthma at an early age, which makes breathing more difficult on a regular basis and the body less able to fight the common flu.

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Neurological Conditions

Various brain disorders can also exacerbate flu symptoms in children and make complications more likely. Examples of such disorders include epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays. Anti-viral drugs are often recommended for children who have neurological conditions and the flu.

Heart Conditions

If a child is born with a weak heart, then he or she may have more trouble getting over the flu. Complications are more likely to occur with this if a child has congenital heart disease, for example.

Blood Diseases

Certain diseases of the blood can also make a child more at risk of developing flu complications, such as sickle cell anemia. This is an inherited disease passed down from a child’s parents that causes a wide variety of health issues that affect the immune system.

Flu Symptoms That Can Lead to Complications

Many parents and caregivers wonder how long does the flu last in toddlers and when should you go to the ER for the flu. For little ones who have the above conditions or other chronic disorders, it is very important to closely monitor the flu symptoms in children. The flu in children should typically last about five days for the major symptoms, but weakness and coughing may extend a few more days after this.

Flu symptoms in toddlers to watch out for include excessive coughing, which may be a sign of bronchitis. Pneumonia may also result from the flu in children and lead to hospitalization. Other symptoms that could indicate serious complications from the flu are dehydration, inflammation, ear infection, and sinus problems. In children, it is a smart idea to take a child to a doctor if the child exhibits trouble breathing, persistent vomiting, decreased appetite, chills, and any symptoms that get progressively worse.

The flu can be very serious, but the best way to avoid these complications is to take preventative measures, such as practicing good hygiene, getting a flu vaccine, and taking flu antiviral medications as prescribed by a pediatrician. Over-the-counter flu medications, like PediaCare, can also help treat the flu in toddlers so that complications don’t have the opportunity to develop.

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