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What to Do About the Flu

First Aid

The flu (influenza) is a viral infection that usually starts out like a cold, but can cause a more serious illness. Most kids who get the flu get over the infection without any problems. Flu viruses usually cause the most illness during the colder months of the year.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of the Flu?

  • fever that comes on suddenly
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • ear pain

What Can I Do About Flu Symptoms?

  • Let your child rest as much as needed.
  • Keep your child hydrated with plenty of liquids.
  • Relieve symptoms with:
    • a cool-mist humidifier
    • saline (saltwater) nose drops
    • acetaminophen or ibuprofen (give according to package directions)

Never give aspirin to a child with the flu. Such use is linked to a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.

Don't give cough or cold medicine to children under 6 years old. Call the doctor first for older kids.

Call your doctor if you have any questions, or if your child has an underlying health condition.

Get Medical Care if Your Child Has:

  • symptoms that get worse
  • a severe cough
  • trouble breathing
  • a fever and is 3 months of age or younger
  • a fever that lasts for 5 or more days
  • a stiff neck
  • a headache that doesn't go away after acetaminophen or ibuprofen

What Can Help Prevent the Flu?

  • Make sure your kids get the flu vaccine each year.
  • Try to avoid large crowds and sick people during flu season.
  • Wash hands well and often.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: Sep 1, 2023

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