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.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. You can buy acetaminophen without a doctor's order. Ask how much and how often to give it to your child. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease pain and fever. You can buy NSAIDs without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for your child, and how much to give him. Give as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Antivirals: This is given to fight an infection caused by a virus.
- Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not helping or if he has side effects. Tell your child's primary healthcare provider if your child takes any vitamins, herbs, or other medicines. Keep a list of the medicines he takes. Include the amounts, and when and why he takes them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.
- 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.
Follow up with your child's primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
Manage your child's symptoms:
- Have your child rest: Make sure your child gets enough rest and sleep. Rest and sleep may help him get better faster when he has the flu.
- Give your child plenty of liquids: Ask your child's primary healthcare provider how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him. This can help prevent dehydration.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier: This can be used in your child's bedroom to increase air moisture. It may make it easier for your child to breathe.
Prevent the spread of influenza:
- Have your child wash his hands often: Have him use soap and water or gel hand cleanser when there is no soap and 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: Have him cough into a tissue or his shirtsleeve so he does not spread germs.
- Clean shared items: Clean toys, table surfaces, doorknobs, and light switches with a germ-killing cleaner. 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 face mask: Wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose when you are near your sick child. This can decrease your risk of getting the flu. Ask caregivers where to buy single-use masks.
- Keep your child home if he is sick: Keep your child away from others as much as possible while he recovers.
- Influenza vaccine: This vaccine helps prevent influenza (flu). Everyone older than age 6 months should get a yearly influenza vaccine. Get the vaccine as soon as it is available, usually in October or November each year.
Contact your child's primary 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.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your child has a fever with a rash.
- Your child has fast breathing, trouble breathing, or chest pain.
- 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 does not want to be held and does not respond to you, or he does not wake up.
- Your child has a seizure.
- Your child coughs and vomits blood.
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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.