Influenza In Children
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Influenza (the flu) is an infection caused by the influenza virus. The flu is easily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or has close contact with others. Your child may be able to spread the flu to others for 1 week or longer after signs or symptoms appear.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your child has fast breathing, trouble breathing, or chest pain.
- Your child has a seizure.
- Your child does not want to be held and does not respond to you, or he does not wake up.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your child has a fever with a rash.
- Your child's skin is blue or gray.
- Your child's symptoms got better, but then came back with a fever or a worse cough.
- Your child will not drink liquids, is not urinating, or has no tears when he cries.
- Your child has trouble breathing, a cough, and he vomits blood.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child's symptoms get worse.
- Your child has new symptoms, such as muscle pain or weakness.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Your child may need any of the following:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's doctor.
- Antivirals help fight a viral infection.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage your child's symptoms:
- Help your child rest and sleep as much as possible as he recovers.
- Give your child liquids as directed to help prevent dehydration. He may need to drink more than usual. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid your child should drink each day. Good liquids include water, fruit juice, or broth.
- Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for your child to breathe and help decrease his cough.
Prevent the spread of the flu:
- Have your child wash his hands often. Use soap and water. Encourage him to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, coughs, or sneezes. Use gel hand cleanser when there is no soap or water available. Teach him not to touch his eyes, nose, or mouth unless he has washed his hands first.
- Teach your child to cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs. Show him how to cough into a tissue or the bend of his arm.
- Clean shared items with a germ-killing cleaner. Clean table surfaces, doorknobs, and light switches. Do not share towels, silverware, and dishes with people who are sick. Wash bed sheets, towels, silverware, and dishes with soap and water.
- Wear a mask over your mouth and nose when you are near your sick child.
- Keep your child home if he is sick. Keep your child away from others as much as possible while he recovers.
- Influenza vaccine helps prevent influenza (flu). Everyone older than 6 months should get a yearly influenza vaccine. Get the vaccine as soon as it is available, usually in October or November each year.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.