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Treating a Child With Swine Flu

WebMD talks to pediatricians for answers to common questions parents have about swine flu.

Are there signs parents should watch for?

“Parents should monitor closely for any signs that children are getting worse, if they have any difficulty breathing, if they are not able to drink, or are not urinating well, if they are very irritable even after their fever goes down, if they have any sort of rash, or if the fever goes down and flu symptoms get better, then get worse again," O'Donnell says.

Call a doctor or seek immediate medical attention if your child:

  • Has bluish or gray skin color
  • Is not drinking enough fluids or taking feeding well
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has severe or persistent vomiting
  • Is not waking up or not interacting
  • Is so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Has flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Has other conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, or asthma and develops flu symptoms including fever and cough

What can a child’s temperature tell us about whether they need to see a doctor?

“Any child less than the age of 2 [months] or 3 months should definitely always be checked out with a fever," O'Donnell says. "If a child has symptoms over age 2, they don’t necessarily need to come in. If the child has other medical problems, such as having a heart condition, a lung condition, bad asthma, even if those children just have mild symptoms, they probably should be brought in. This includes children [with a weakened immune system.]"

Paul Spearman, MD, pediatric infection disease specialist and vice chairman of research at the Emory University School of Medicine department of pediatrics, also tells WebMD, "We use a cutoff of 100.8.

"That would be a cause for concern, along with lethargy. In an older child there is no cutoff. I usually use [a temperature of] 101, but that doesn’t mean one needs to go to an ER with that. They certainly don’t. What should be said right now is, ‘don’t panic.’ Keep up with the news."

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