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Flu (Influenza): Brief Version

The flu (influenza) is caused by a virus. The virus infects the nose, throat, and air passages to the lungs. Your child will probably have a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Your child may have more muscle pain, headache, fever, and chills than if he had a cold. Flu gets spread when people sneeze, cough, or touch something that a sick person touched. If your child is between 6 months and 18 years old, he should get a flu shot.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Fever or aches.

    Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 6 hours or ibuprofen (Advil) every 8 hours for discomfort or fever over 102°F (39°C).

    Do not give your child aspirin.

  • Cough or hoarseness.

    Give cough drops to your child if he is older than 6 years old. If your child is over 1 year old, you can give him honey (1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed). Never give honey to babies. If you do not have honey, use corn syrup.

  • Sore throat.

    Give hard candy to children over 6 years old. Warm chicken broth may also help children over 1 year old.

  • Stuffy nose.

    Put warm-water or saline nose drops into your child's nose. Then have the child blow his nose or you can use a suction bulb. This will open most blocked noses.

  • Fluids

    Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child has other problems such as an earache, sinus pain or pressure, or a fever lasting over 3 days.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-04
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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