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Influenza in Children


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.


Informed consent

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.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Your child may need extra oxygen

if his or her blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over or her nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his or her nostrils. Ask a healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him or her medicine or liquids.


Your child will need to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the flu to other people. People near your child should wear a mask, and they may also wear gloves, goggles, and a gown. People who enter your child's room should wash their hands before they leave.


  • An x-ray, CT, or MRI may be done to check your child's heart, lungs, and chest. He or she may be given contrast liquid to help the areas show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his or her body.
  • A lumbar puncture , or spinal tap, is when 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 or she does not move during the procedure.


  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever.
  • NSAIDs decrease pain and fever.
  • Bronchodilators may be given to help open your child's airways so he or she can breathe more easily.
  • Antivirals help fight an infection caused by a virus.


A ventilator is a machine that gives your child oxygen. The ventilator breathes for your child when he or she cannot breathe well on his or her own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your child's mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. Your child may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into his or her windpipe.


Your child's symptoms may get worse. He or she may develop severe dehydration. If your child has other health problems, such as asthma or epilepsy, they can get worse. Infection may spread to other parts of his or her body, such as the ears, throat, or sinuses. Your child may develop croup, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia and have trouble breathing. He or she may develop seizures. The flu can be life-threatening.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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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.

Learn more about Influenza in Children (Inpatient Care)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.