Influenza (Children)

Call 911 if your child:

Up to 11% of kids get the flu -- a respiratory infection caused by a virus -- at some point. Usually they recover just fine. But in some cases, the flu can lead to more serious illnesses.

Call Doctor If Your Child:

  • Is younger than 2
  • Isn't feeding well and is often cranky and tired
  • Is vomiting and has diarrhea, or is dehydrated
  • Has a fever that lasts more than 3 to 4 days
  • Has a cough that doesn't go away
  • Has problems breathing
  • Has a stiff neck
  • Has flu symptoms and a fever that go away and return
  • Is not more comfortable or alert once the fever goes down
  • Doesn't wet diapers or hasn't urinated within 8 hours
  • Cries without tears
  • Has a rash

1. Give Fluids and Rest

  • Give a baby plenty of breast milk or formula. Try to feed more frequently, giving smaller amounts more frequently. Pedialyte may be used if your baby is not taking milk.
  • Serve an older child plenty of fluids such as water and juice, oral electrolyte solution, or ice pops. Don't give any liquids that have caffeine.
  • Let the child rest.
  • Pay attention to how often the child urinates to watch for dehydration.

2. Treat Congestion and Symptoms

  • Use a humidifier in the child's bedroom to keep it moist to ease a stuffy nose.
  • Remove mucus from the child's nose with a bulb syringe or ask an older child to blow it out. You can thin mucus with saline nasal spray and reduce nasal congestion with saline nasal gel.
  • Give the child a warm bath. Dress him in light clothing and keep his room cool.
  • Give children's formula acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to relieve muscle aches, a headache, fever, and sore throat. Do not give aspirin because of the danger of Reye's syndrome.
  • Do not give a child 6 months of age or younger ibuprofen.
  • Don't give a child under 6 years old cold or cough medicine unless discussed with your doctor.

3. Prevent Flu

  • Make sure all children older than 6 months of age plus all adults they come in contact with get a flu vaccine every year.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on November 05, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

The Nemours Foundation: "Flu Instruction Sheet."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Colds and the Flu in Children."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Flu (Influenza)."

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