Flu symptoms in children

Children don't get flu, do they?

Yes they do – but it can be quite difficult to spot, especially in younger children.

Young children with flu will not have the energy to play, and will sleep or want to sleep far more than normal. 1

While they will have many of the same symptoms as adults, children with flu are more likely to have vomiting, diarrhoea, earache, and sore, red eyes.

Things to remember


Symptoms come on very quickly


Symptoms may last for over a week

Isn’t flu just a bad cold?

No – flu and a cold are caused by different viruses and flu is much more severe. 2

If you are unsure whether your child’s symptoms are flu and need advice, speak to your doctor or nurse.

In a nutshell, colds come on gradually and are usually mild, letting you get on with life, flu comes on very quickly, causes fever and sore muscles, and normally makes you so ill or exhausted that you have to stay in bed. 2


So what to look out for:

  • Earache
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion
  • Sore, red eyes
  • Sudden fever of 38-40 ℃

Flu can sometimes make you so ill that you need to go to hospital. 3


1.Caring for kids – Influenza in children. Available at: www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/influenza_in_children Last accessed October 2016.

2.Boots Web MD. Flu guide: What is flu? Available at: http://www.webmd.boots.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/what-is-flu Last accessed October 2016.

3.CDC – Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Available at: www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm Last accessed October 2016.


You are encouraged to report side effects. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you get any side effects. You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard