This year’s flu season in full swing and has now reached epidemic proportions. It is so widespread that emergency rooms are overcrowding and some schools are even closing for “flu days.” But if you thought you knew just what symptoms to lookout for in your child, there’s one you might be missing.
Brodi Willard, a mom and registered nurse in Nebraska, issued an urgent warning to parents on her Facebook page last week: Be on the lookout for hives on your children. In the post, Willard said her son came home from school with hives and tested positive for influenza—although he had no other symptoms.
“My son came home from school with hives,” Willard wrote on Jan. 26, with a picture of her son’s broken-out arm. “Every time he would scratch, more would appear. We tried changing his clothes and giving him a bath, but nothing helped.”
She then decided to call the pediatrician, who said they’d had two other kids with hives come into the office that day already.
“[The other kids] tested positive for influenza,” Willard wrote in the post. “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.”
The post obviously resonated with others, as it’s been shared more than 250,000 times and has attracted more than 15,000 comments.
Are Hives Really A Flu Symptom?
Any warning signs of the flu are not to be taken lightly, as at least 37 children have already died during the 2017-2018 flu season. But just how common are hives when it comes to the flu? Especially as the only symptom?
Hives are not an unusual way for the body to react to a virus, as they are simply caused when your immune system senses an allergen in the body and releases histamine into your blood stream to fight it off, according to Hives.org. Called viral hives, these are generally caused by things such as hepatitis, herpes, croup and the flu.
Children’s Health Dallas told TV station WFAA, however, that hives not typically associated with the flu, saying, “Testing positive for flu in the absence of typical or classical flu symptoms could suggest that the tests are giving false positive results.”
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout for hives as a symptom, in addition to other, more typical flu symptoms—like fever, aches, sore throat and a cough. If you or your child seems to improve from the flu, then get worse again, or if there are symptoms like persistent vomiting, chest pressure or confusion, you should take a trip to the emergency room.
As for Willard’s son, he’s apparently doing much better. “They put him on the Tamiflu, and he’s been fine,” she told Omaha’s WOWT-TV this week. “He’s still playing and running around.”