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Ear, Nose and Throat 

Otolaryngologists, also called ear, nose and throat or ENT specialists, treat diseases and injuries affecting the ear, nose and throat, as well as the head and neck.  

Whether you're battling a balance disorder, having trouble hearing or simply sick of seasonal allergies, the ENT specialists on the medical staff at Baylor can help you or your family with treatment for many conditions.  

Call 1.800.4BAYLOR for a referral to a physician on the medical staff at one of our hospitals.

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Influenza (Flu) in ChildrenInfluenza

Influenza (Flu) in Children

What is the flu?

Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious viral infection. It is one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season.

The flu is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system. This includes the nose, bronchial tubes, and lungs. The flu has these common symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

The flu can make people of any age ill. Most people, including children, are ill with influenza for less than a week. But some children have a much more serious illness and may need to be treated in the hospital. The flu may also lead to pneumonia or death.

What are the different types of flu?

Flu viruses are divided into 3 types: A, B, and C.

  • Influenza types A and B cause epidemics of respiratory illness that happen almost every winter. They often lead to more people needing a hospital stay, and more people dying from the flu. Public health officials focus on stopping the spread of types A and B. One of the reasons the flu remains a problem is because the viruses change their structure often. This means that people are exposed to new types of the virus each year.

  • Influenza type C usually causes either a very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms at all. It does not cause epidemics and does not have the severe public health impact that influenza types A and B do.

Flu viruses continually change (mutate). This helps the virus to evade a child's immune system. Children (and adults) can get the flu no matter what their age. The process works like this:

  1. A child infected with a flu virus develops antibodies against that virus.

  2. The virus changes.

  3. The "older" antibodies no longer recognize the "newer" virus when the next flu season comes around.

  4. The child becomes infected again.

The older antibodies can give some protection against getting the flu again. Vaccines given each year to protect against the flu contain the influenza virus strain from each type that is expected to cause the flu that year.

What causes the flu?

A flu virus is generally passed from person to person through the air. This means your child can get the flu by coming in contact with an infected person who sneezes or coughs. The virus can also live for a short time on things like doorknobs, pens or pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. So your child can get the flu virus by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or eyes.

People are generally the most contagious with the flu 24 hours before they start having symptoms and during the time they have the most symptoms. That's why it is hard to prevent the spread of the flu, especially among children, because they do not always know they are sick while they are still spreading the disease. The risk of infecting others usually stops around the seventh day of the infection.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The flu is called a respiratory disease, but the whole body seems to suffer when a child has it. Children usually become suddenly ill with any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever, which may be as high as 103°F (39.4°C) to 105°F (40.5°C)

  • Muscle and joint aches and pains

  • Not feeling well "all over"

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Worsening cough

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

Most children recover from the flu within a week. But they still feel exhausted for as long as 3 to 4 weeks.

The symptoms of the flu may look like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a cold different from the flu?

A cold and the flu are two different illnesses. A cold is relatively harmless and usually clears up by itself after a period of time. Sometimes a cold may lead to another infection, such as an ear infection. But the flu can lead to complications, such as pneumonia and even death. What may seem like a cold may be the flu. Be aware of these differences:

Cold symptoms

Flu symptoms

Low or no fever

High fever

Sometimes a headache

Headache (very common)

Stuffy, runny nose

Clear nose or stuffy nose


Sometimes sneezing

Mild, hacking cough

Cough, often becoming severe

Slight aches and pains

Often severe aches and pains

Mild fatigue

Several weeks of fatigue

Sore throat

Sometimes a sore throat

Normal energy level or may feel sluggish

Extreme exhaustion

How can the flu be prevented?

A new flu vaccine is available each year, before the start of flu season. All children, beginning at 6 months, should get the flu vaccine each year, as soon as it is available in their community. 

The flu vaccine is available as a shot and a nasal spray. The nasal spray is not recommended for the 2016-2017 flu season. The CDC says this is because the nasal spray did not seem to protect against the flu over the last several flu seasons. In the past, it was meant for children ages 2 and older.

Your child's provider may prescribe antiviral medicines to help prevent your child from getting severe long-lasting symptoms or from getting the flu. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about antiviral medicines if your child was around someone with the flu.

You can also help prevent your child from getting the flu by following these tips:

  • When possible, have your child stay away from or limit contact with infected people.

  • Have your child wash his or her hands often. Frequent handwashing may reduce, but not eliminate, the risk for infection.

  • Have your child cover his or her nose and mouth with a tissue or inside elbow when coughing or sneezing to limit spread of the virus.

How well the vaccine works varies from year to year. It depends on how close the flu virus strains in the vaccine match the strain or strains that actually circulate during flu season. Vaccine strains must be chosen 9 to 10 months before the influenza season. Sometimes changes occur in the circulating strains of viruses between the time vaccine strains are chosen and the next flu season. These changes may make it less likely for your child's antibodies to stop the newly mutated virus. This decreases the chance that the vaccine will work.

What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?

The most serious side effect of the flu vaccine is an allergic reaction in children who have a severe allergy to eggs. Vaccines available for those with an egg allergy.

Some children who get the vaccine have soreness at the vaccine site. Some children have mild side effects, such as a headache or a low-grade fever for about a day after vaccine. Because these mild side effects are like some influenza symptoms, some people believe influenza vaccine causes the flu. But this is not true, according to the CDC.

What is currently recommended for children?

The vaccine is recommended for all children 6 months and older. Children who are allergic to eggs may get a different flu vaccine designed for people with an egg allergy. It is especially important that children in these groups get a flu shot: 

  • Children 6 months to 19 years old

  • Children of any who have a chronic health condition

  • Children who have a long-term heart or lung condition

  • Children who have:

    • Endocrine disorders such as diabetes

    • Kidney or liver disorders

    • Weakened immune system from diseases such as HIV or AIDS or taking long-term steroids

    • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease

  • Children and teenagers ages 6 months to 19 years who are taking aspirin as long-term therapy

  • Children of people in high-risk groups

How is the flu treated?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The goal of treatment is to help prevent or ease symptoms. Treatment may include:

  • Medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve aches and fever. Don't give aspirin to children with a fever without talking to your child's healthcare provider first. The medicine of choice for children is acetaminophen.

  • Bed rest and more fluids

  • Medicine for your child's cough. These may be prescribed by your child's provider after a thorough checkup.

  • Antiviral medicines. These may help to shorten how long your child is ill and ease symptoms. But these medicines don't cure the flu. To work, they must be started within 2 days after symptoms begin. Your child's provider will let you know how long your child should take this medicine. The provider may also prescribe these medicines to help prevent the flu if your child is around someone who has it.

Influenza - Children

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Influenza (Flu)Influenza (Gripa)

Influenza (Flu)

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza, or flu, is an easily spread respiratory tract infection. It is caused by a virus. About 5% to 20% of people in the U.S. get the flu each year. The flu usually starts abruptly, with fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a cough.

The flu can make people of any age ill. Although most people are ill with the flu for only a few days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to go to the hospital. The flu can also lead to pneumonia and death.

The flu viruses continually change (mutate).Currently, three different influenza viruses circulate worldwide. Vaccines given each year to protect against the flu fight the flu virus strain expected to cause the illness that year.

What causes the flu?

The flu is caused by a virus. Viruses are generally passed from person to person through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

But the virus can also live for a short time on objects like doorknobs, pens, pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. So you can also get the flu by touching something that has been recently handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Each person may experience symptoms differently. The flu is called a respiratory disease, but the whole body seems to suffer. People usually become very ill with several, or all, of the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing at times
  • Cough, often becoming severe
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Fatigue for several weeks
  • Sometimes a sore throat
  • Extreme exhaustion

Fever and body aches usually last for 3 to 5 days, but cough and fatigue may last for 2 weeks or more.

The symptoms of the flu may look like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is the flu diagnosed?

The flu is diagnosed based on your symptoms. Lab tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis if needed.

How is the flu treated?

Specific treatment for the flu will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:

  • How old you are
  • Your overall health and past health
  • How sick you are
  • How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • How long the disease is expected to last
  • Your opinion or preference

The goal of treatment for the flu is to help prevent or decrease the severity of symptoms. Treatment may include:

  • Medicines to relieve aches and fever. Don't give aspirin to children with fever. The medicine of choice for children is acetaminophen.
  • Medicines for congestion and nasal discharge
  • Bed rest and more fluids
  • Antiviral medicines. When started within the first 2 days of the illness, they can reduce how long you'll have the flu, but they can't cure it. These medicines do have some side effects, such as nervousness, lightheadedness, or nausea. These medicines are prescribed by a doctor.

Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.

What are the complications of the flu?

The most common complication of the flu is pneumonia. It can also cause serious muscle and central nervous system complications. Of those who get the flu, between 3,000 and 49,000 will die from it or from complications. Most of these deaths occur in people over 65.

Can the flu be prevented?

A new flu vaccine is made each fall. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each season  It is usually recommended for specific groups of people, as well as for anyone who wants to avoid having the flu.

The flu vaccine is safe. The CDC and the FDA closely watch vaccine safety, and hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been safely given across the country for decades.

The flu vaccine can't give you the flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given and maybe a low fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or cough. If you do have them at all, these side effects are usually mild and short-lived.

How well the vaccine works varies from person to person. It depends on factors such as age and overall health.

A nasal spray flu vaccine is currently approved to prevent flu in healthy children and teens ages 2 to 17, and healthy adults ages 18 to 49. As with other live virus vaccines, the nasal spray vaccine should not be given for any reason to pregnant women or people with weak immune systems. This includes those with immune deficiency diseases, such as AIDS or cancer, or people who are being treated with medicines that weaken the immune system. The CDC does not recommend the nasal spray for the 2016-2017 flu season. 

The nasal spray vaccine also should not be given to these groups of people:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Any person with asthma
  • Children younger than 5 years who have wheezing
  • Adults ages 50 and older
  • Children and adolescents who are taking aspirin as long-term treatment
  • Children and adults who have a chronic disorder of the lung, heart, kidney, liver, nerves, blood, or metabolism 

These tips can also help keep you from getting the flu:

  • When possible, stay away from or limit contact with infected people.
  • Wash your hands often. Handwashing may reduce, but not eliminate, the risk for infection.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze to limit spread of the virus.

The flu causes complications that may develop into a more serious disease or become dangerous to some groups, such as older adults and those with chronic health conditions. For these reasons, the CDC recommends that the following groups get a vaccine each year. Always talk with your healthcare provider for more information about who should get the flu vaccine:

  • People ages 50 and older. The vaccine may not work as well for older adults, but it can greatly reduce the chances of serious illness or death from the flu.
  • Children and teens 6 months to 19 years old
  • Residents of nursing homes and any other chronic-care facilities that house people of any age who have chronic health conditions
  • Adults and children who have chronic disorders of the lungs or heart, including children with asthma
  • Adults and children who have these health conditions:
    • Chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes
    • Kidney dysfunction
    • Weak immune system
    • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease
  • Children and teens ages 6 months to 19 years who take aspirin as long-term therapy
  • Women who will be pregnant during flu season
  • Healthcare providers
  • Employees of nursing homes and chronic-care facilities who have contact with patients or residents
  • Providers of home care to people at high risk
  • Household members, including children of people high-risk groups
  • People of any age who wish to lower their chances of getting the flu

Although the flu vaccine is safe, some people should not be vaccinated. These include:

  • People who are allergic to eggs may be told not to get the vaccine
  • People who have had a severe reaction in the past after getting the flu vaccine
  • People who are sick with a fever. These people should get vaccinated after they have recovered.
  • Babies who are 6 months old or younger
  • People who have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome. This is a severe paralyzing illness.

The CDC recommends getting the flu shot every year, as soon as it becomes available in your community. Flu season can begin as early as October and most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February, but flu seasons are unpredictable. The flu shot takes 1 to 2 weeks to become effective.

The CDC recommends that travelers have the flu vaccine at least 2 weeks before planned travel to allow time to develop immunity. Consult your doctor for more information.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

For most people, the flu can be treated at home without seeing your healthcare provider. But if your condition makes you more susceptible to complications from the flu, tell your healthcare provider when you suspect you have the flu. If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your healthcare provider know.

Key points about the flu

  • The flu is an easily spread viral respiratory tract infection.
  • The flu is caused by viruses that are generally passed from person to person through the air.
  • The flu is treated with bed rest, more fluids, and medicines to treat discomfort and fever
  • Antiviral medicine taken within the first 2 days of illness can reduce the length and severity of the disease but does not cure it.
  • The best way to prevent the flu is to get a yearly flu shot.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

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