The flu is a respiratory infection that affects the nose, lungs, and throat. The influenza virus is fairly common, especially in the fall and winter months. Since it’s both common and contagious, it’s important to know what to do when your child becomes sick.
Firstly, it’s best to get diagnosed. If you suspect that your child has the flu, you should take him or her to a pediatric urgent care center or their primary care physician. There, the doctor can do laboratory work to determine whether o not your child actually has the flu, or a severe cold with flu-like symptoms.
Here are some common symptoms associated with influenza:
- Sudden fever
- Body aches and pains
- Unusual fatigue or weakness
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
These basic symptoms can usually be resolved within a week or so with plenty of rest and by drinking lots of fluids.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol or Tempra) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) can help with aches and pains, as well as fever and inflammation. Gargling warm water can also help relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
Plenty of medicines are marketed to treat cold and flu, but be sure to read the label to make sure that the medicine is suitable for your child. You should not give acetylsalicylic acid or Aspirin to any child under 16 years of age, and should not administer cough medicine to children under six, unless instructed by a doctor.
Preventing the Flu
Since kids are exposed to each other in close quarters at school, daycares, playgrounds, and after school activity programs, the flu is very easily transmittable.
Your first line of defense against influenza is the vaccine. You should receive a flu shot annually in order to protect yourself from contracting the disease. Children can reveive the flu vaccine in a shot or nasal spray.
It’s also important to teach your children proper hygiene techniques. Show them to always sneeze and cough into the crook of their elbow to prevent germs from spreading into the air or onto their hands. They should also wash their hands regularly before meals, after using the bathroom, after playing, or any time they have coughed or sneezed into their hands.
If you have any questions regarding cold or flu treatment, consult your child’s physician or a pediatric urgent care center.