Childr Health Information

Influenza (“Flu”)

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Topic: Diseases & Conditions

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about influenza or “the flu.”  Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse practitioner to go over any information you do not understand.

What is the flu?
The flu is a viral infection most common in the winter months.

What are the symptoms of the flu?
The flu causes fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, loss of appetite, cough, a feeling of tiredness and a sore throat.  In infants, the flu can look like a severe infection called sepsis.  The flu can cause serious infection in the lungs (pneumonia or bronchiolitis).

How can I tell if my child has the flu or something else?
Colds do not usually cause fever, headache, a feeling of tiredness or significant breathing problems.  The “stomach flu” (vomiting and/or diarrhea) really is not the flu at all.  It is a completely different infection caused by other viruses, bacteria or parasites.

How is the flu treated?
There are now prescription medicines available.  The doctor can best decide if your child will benefit from one of them.

What can I do for my child at home?
To help your child get better:
• Have your child rest in bed or on the couch.
• Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids, like water or juice.
• Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) for fever, aches and pains.  Do not give your child aspirin, as it can cause a rare but serious illness in kids called Reyes syndrome. 
• Keep your child from school or child care for a few days.  They may feel bad for up to a week and it could take a few weeks before they feel completely better.

How is the flu spread?
This very contagious virus spreads in little drops that spray out of an infected person’s mouth and nose during sneezing, coughing, laughing or just talking.  If someone else breathes in these drops or gets them on their hands and then touches their mouth or nose, the virus can get into their body and cause the flu. 

What can I do to prevent the spread of the flu?
• Teach your children to cover coughs with a tissue or if they do not have a tissue, cough into their shirtsleeve. 
• Since the flu can be spread when a child picks up the virus from objects coughed on by others, frequent hand-washing is the key to prevention.
• Annual flu vaccine is recommended for all persons, including school-aged children, who want to reduce the risk of getting flu or spreading it to others.
• Teach children to cover coughs.

When should I call my child’s doctor?
Seek medical attention if your child starts to show signs of the flu.  The prescription medicines work best if started within the first 48 hours of illness.

What about seasonal flu vaccines?
If your child is under 9 years of age and this is the first time your child has received an influenza vaccine, your child needs a second dose 1 month apart.  Consult your PCP.

PDF: Child Health Information - INFLUENZA (“FLU”)

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.


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