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.
You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.
The flu can cause serious or life-threatening health problems in some children. If your child is not treated for the flu, his signs and symptoms may get worse. He may have a high fever and get dehydrated. If he has other health problems, such as asthma or epilepsy, these problems may get worse. Infection may spread to other parts of his body, such as his ears, throat, or sinuses. He may get pneumonia, bronchiolitis, or croup, and he may not be able to breathe. He may get encephalopathy (a brain disease) or meningitis (swelling of the brain coverings). He may have seizures. He may have swelling of the heart or a severe infection.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.
An IV tube may be put into your child's vein to give him liquids and medicine.
Your child will need to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of germs to others. Caregivers may wear gloves, goggles, and a gown, and anyone near your child should wear a mask. Only people that your child needs to help comfort and take care of him may be allowed in his room. Anyone in the same room as your child should wash their hands before leaving the room.
Samples of your child's blood may be collected and tested. Ask caregivers for more information about these and other tests that your child may need:
- Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your child's lungs and heart. A chest x-ray may be used to check your child's heart, lungs, and chest wall. It can help caregivers diagnose your child's symptoms, or suggest or monitor treatment for medical conditions.
- CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray and computer are used to take pictures of your child's body. Your child may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell the caregiver if your child is allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.
- MRI: An MRI uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of your child's body. Caregivers may use the MRI to look at your child's brain, muscles, joints, bones, or blood vessels. Your child will need to lie still during his test. Never enter the MRI room with any metal objects. This can cause serious injury.
- Lumbar puncture: This procedure may also be called a spinal tap. A small needle is placed into your child's lower back. Fluid will be removed from around your child's spinal cord and sent to the lab for tests. The test is done to check for bleeding around your child's brain and spinal cord, and for infection. This procedure may also be done to take pressure off your child's brain and spinal cord, or to give medicine. Your child may need to be held in place so that he does not move during the procedure.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease pain and fever.
- Bronchodilators: Bronchodilators may be given to help open your child's airways so he can breathe more easily.
- Antivirals: This is given to fight an infection caused by a virus.
- Oxygen: Your child may need oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Oxygen will help your child breathe easier. Your child may get oxygen through small tubes placed in his nostrils, or through a mask. He may instead be placed in an oxygen tent. Never take off your child's oxygen tubes or mask or remove him from the tent without asking his caregiver first.
- Ventilator: This is a machine that helps your child breathe if he cannot breathe well on his own. He may have an endotracheal tube (ET tube) in his mouth or nose. A tube called a trach may go into an incision in the front of his neck. The ET tube or trach is attached to the ventilator.
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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.