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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

How to Treat the Flu

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The Flu and Kids

Call the doctor if your child:  

  • Is under 3 months old with a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • Is between 3 months and 12 months old with a fever of 102.2 degrees or higher
  • Has a fever higher than 104 degrees
  • Is very ill, drowsy, or fussy, not acting normally, has a fever that lasts more than 2 days, or has a fever that keeps getting higher
  • Has other medical conditions, other symptoms, or has a seizure

For body aches, doctors suggest you give your child over-the-counter (OTC) acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. Don’t give aspirin to anyone under 19 years old. It’s linked with Reye’s syndrome, a sometimes fatal illness that affects children and teens. To avoid stomach upset, take ibuprofen with food.

Don’t give OTC cough medicines to kids under 4. They don’t work. Homemade cough remedies with honey do help. After your child is 1 year old, you can use ½ to 1 teaspoon of honey as needed. It can help thin the mucus and ease the cough. Never give honey to children under 1 year old -- it can be toxic to them.

Prescription Medicine

Your doctor can give you drugs that prevent the flu and ease your symptoms. But you have to take them within the first 48 after you start to feel sick. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is a medication you take by mouth, zanamivir (Relenza) is inhaled, and peramivir (Rapivab) is given into a vein. Your doctor may be more likely to prescribe one if your illness is severe or to people who are:

  • Children under 5
  • Adults age 65 or older
  • People with asthma, diabetes, or other chronic medical conditions
  • Pregnant women or those who delivered within 2 weeks
  • Nursing home residents
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives
  • People who are extremely obese
  • People with weakened immune systems

Herbal Remedies

Oscillococcinum is popular in Europe and has gained fans in the U.S. Studies have shown it may shorten your case of the flu and ease your symptoms, but there’s no proof that it prevents the flu.

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