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Children and Flu

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Are there ways to prevent the flu in children? continued...

To learn more about why it's so important for all children to receive the flu vaccine, watch this video from the CDC: Children Lost to the Flu.

Healthy children over age 2 who don't wheeze or don't have a history of asthma may have the option of getting the nasal spray influenza vaccine. Children ages 6 months and older can receive the flu shot.

Pregnant women and caregivers of children younger than 6 months or children with certain health conditions should be vaccinated. 

For in-depth information about how to prevent the flu in children, see WebMD's Flu Shot: Influenza Vaccine and Side Effects.

Also see WebMD's What Is FluMist?

Can there be complications of flu in children?

Some complications of flu in children may include a sinus infection, ear infection, or pneumonia. Call your pediatrician if your child's fever lasts more than three to four days or if your child complains of trouble breathing, ear pain, congestion in the nose or head, or persistent cough, or he 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 flu.

For in-depth information about flu complications, see WebMD's Flu Complications.

What's the best way to treat flu symptoms in children?

There are useful home remedies and over-the-counter medications to treat flu symptoms in children. Keep in mind that antibiotics are ineffective against the flu. Antibiotics are useful to treat bacterial infections. However, the flu is a viral infection and antibiotics will not help. Antiviral medicines are sometimes helpful for high-risk patients if they are started in the first two days of getting sick. They generally only shorten the duration of the flu of one to two days. However, the number one line of defense for flu is to get the flu vaccine. Some common home remedies for flu in children include:

  • Plenty of rest
  • Plenty of liquids
  • Using acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever and reduce aches (Both are available in children's formulations.)

Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers. Aspirin may increase risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare disorder that occurs almost exclusively in children and can cause severe liver and brain damage.

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