The flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can be mild or severe, and in some extreme cases it can lead to death. The flu can be especially dangerous for those with chronic illnesses or a weakened immune system. Symptoms of the flu can include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Fever (100.4 or higher)
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
How to treat the flu
If you suspect your child has the flu, your first step should be to contact your child's pediatrician. Because the flu is a virus, it needs to run its course, which means your child will need lots of rest at home.
To treat the flu at home, you can:
- Reduce fever and ease body aches with children's ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Advil or Tylenol). Aspirin and aspirin-containing products (such as Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, and Alka-Seltzer, among others) should not be given to children or adolescents who have flu-like symptoms, unless instructed by a physician to be given for other medical reasons.
- Offer plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration. Soft fruits, blended frozen juice drinks and ice pops can be given if your child gets tired of water.
- Encourage rest and couch time.
- Use a humidifier in your child's room to help break up nasal and chest congestion.
Staying flu-free this season
You can help keep your family well by steering clear of other people who have the virus, encouraging frequent hand-washing, keeping noses and mouths covered when coughing or sneezing, and making sure your family members are up to date on their vaccinations. Keeping hard surfaces clean can also help prevent the spread of flu germs.
Give your child’s immune system a boost with plenty of sleep and exercise and a nutrient-rich diet full of flu-fighting fruits, vegetables and protein.