In the midst of this particularly bad flu season, it's not worth taking any chances. And after reading one recent cautionary tale, it's clear that there are some not-so-obvious influenza symptoms that some people may not realize. As it turns out, a bad case of the hives can mean your child has the flu — and one mom is warning as many parents about it as she can.
Brodi Willard, a registered nurse and mother of two boys, shared the story of her son's recent bout with the flu on Facebook. She explained that she called his pediatrician's office when she noticed that he had hives that were getting worse. Over the phone, they told her that the hives could be a sign of the flu. She wrote:
My son came home from school with hives. Every time he would scratch, more would appear. We tried changing his clothes and giving him a bath, but nothing helped. I called his pediatrician. They said they had two kids come into the office that day with the same symptoms and tested POSITIVE FOR INFLUENZA.
So, Willard took her son to the doctor for a flu test, and he tested positive. Her post continued:
I took him to the doctor this morning, and he tested POSITIVE for INFLUENZA B. He has had NO symptoms. No fever, no cough, and no runny nose. He only has hives. Please keep watch on your children so if they develop hives, please call your pediatrician. I have never heard of this symptom but it is obviously something to be on the lookout for.
Interestingly, at the time of the post, her son didn't have any of the classic flu symptoms, which include fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, headaches, fatigue, a runny nose, and vomiting or diarrhea (the latter typically only in children), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children sometimes also experience fever accompanied by a rash, the CDC notes.
Willard also included a photo of her son's hive-covered arm in the post, which has been shared more than 230,000 times on Facebook. It's awesome that Willard and her son are using their negative experience as a way to educate and warn others about this lesser-known flu symptom.
Even though he had no symptoms, he stayed home from school until the hives completely disappeared, so that he would not spread the virus to other kids, Willard tells Romper via email. "Fortunately, my son never developed any of the typical flu symptoms such as a fever or cough," she says. "He started the five-day regimen of Tamiflu on a Friday night, and by Sunday afternoon, the hives had disappeared. He has since finished the Tamiflu and is back in school."
Willard seems to have really done a service by sharing her son's story to Facebook, because other parents have reached out to let her know how her story helped them. "Since posting my Facebook post, I have had other people contact me to tell me that their children had the same symptom," she tells Romper. "They took their child to the doctor, and then they were also diagnosed with influenza. The premise behind my post was to raise public awareness regarding this symptom. I don't want the public to overlook it."
This year's flu seems to be much worse than previous years, partly because of an increase in H3N2 flu strains, according to Healthline. “They tend to result in more complications of flu: pneumonia, having to be hospitalized, and actually dying — that’s number one," Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told the outlet. And earlier this week, the CDC said that the rate of flu-related child deaths is expected to increase through the rest of flu season, as reported by CBS News.
In short, you should always have a doctor check out any unusual symptoms you or your child is experiencing this time of year, whether you think they are related to the flu or not.
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