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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Children and the Flu

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It’s not always easy to tell your child has the flu. The illness comes on fast and is more intense than a cold. Kids tend to feel worse during the first 2 or 3 days they're sick.

Symptoms include:

Child Discipline Tactics

Discipline is the process of teaching your child what type of behavior is acceptable and what type is not acceptable. In other words, discipline teaches a child to follow rules. Discipline may involve both punishment, such as a time out, and, more importantly, rewards. It sounds so straightforward, yet every parent becomes frustrated at one time or another with issues surrounding children and discipline.

  • A high-grade fever up to 104 degrees F
  • Chills and shakes with the fever
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Headache and body aches
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting and belly pain

Some parents mistake the flu for a stomach bug. That’s because unlike adults, children with the flu can have nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting.

What Causes It?

Three main types of influenza viruses can give you the flu. Types A and B cause the yearly outbreaks. Type C leads to mild, random cases.

How Does It Spread?

The flu is highly contagious, particularly when kids share close quarters like they do in school classrooms. It spreads when they inhale droplets that are coughed up or sneezed by an infected person, or when they come in direct contact with mucus or spit from someone who has the flu.

Kids can spread the flu a day before their symptoms start, and 5-7 days after they get sick. It can easily move from kid to kid as they share things like pencils, toys, computers, remotes, spoons, and forks. Hand-to-hand contact is another main method.

How Do You Avoid the Flu?

The best way is to get a yearly vaccination. The CDC says all people 6 months and older should get one.  

Healthy children over 2 years old who don't wheeze or don't have a history of asthma can get the nasal spray influenza vaccine. Otherwise, children 6 months and older should get a flu shot.

Pregnant women and caregivers of children younger than 6 months or of children with certain health conditions should get the vaccine.

Can the Flu Lead to Other Problems?

Yes. Those can include a sinus infection, ear infection, or pneumonia. Call the doctor if your child's fever lasts more than 3 to 4 days. Also call if she complains of trouble breathing, ear pain, a stuffy nose or head, a cough that won’t go away, or she seems to be getting worse.

Young children under age 2 -- even healthy children -- are more likely than older children to be hospitalized from the complications of the flu.

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