The flu can make someone feel pretty miserable for up to a week, but it usually won't need medical treatment unless a person develops complications.
Some people are at high risk for serious complications if they get the flu, including children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people with asthma, and those with weakened immune systems. If they get the flu and their symptoms are reported within the first 2 days of the illness, a doctor might prescribe an antiviral medicine. But these medicines usually only shorten the course of the infection by 1 or 2 days.
If your child gets the flu:
- Offer plenty of fluids (fever, which is common with the flu, can lead to dehydration). If your child is tired of drinking plain water, try ice pops, icy drinks mixed in a blender, and soft fruits (like melons or grapes).
- Encourage your child to rest in bed or on the couch with a supply of magazines, books, quiet music, and perhaps a favorite movie.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and pains (but do not give aspirin unless your doctor directs you to do so).
- Dress your child in layers so you can add and remove layers during bouts of chills or fever.
- Ask a close relative or faraway friend to call and help lift your child's spirits.
- Take care of yourself and the other people in your family! If you haven't done so, ask your doctor whether you (and other family members) should get a flu vaccine. Also, wash your hands well and often, especially after picking up used tissues.
If your doctor prescribes medicine to ease symptoms, be sure to call the pharmacist before you go to pick it up. The flu can strongly affect many areas of the United States, so some pharmacies might have trouble keeping the medicines in stock.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|CDC: Flu (Influenza) The CDC's site has up-to-date information on flu outbreaks, immunizations, symptoms, prevention, and more.|
|Is It a Cold or the Flu? Your child is sent home from school with a sore throat, cough, and high fever - could it be the flu that's been going around? Or is it just a common cold? Find out here!|
|Flu Center Learn all about protecting your family from the flu and what to do if your child gets flu-like symptoms.|
|Is the Flu Vaccine a Good Idea for Your Family? The flu itself generally isn't dangerous, but its complications can be. That's why it's important for you and your doctor to determine whether your family can and should get the flu vaccine.|
|Influenza (Flu) Flu symptoms tend to develop quickly and are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and stuffiness of a cold. Yearly vaccination is the best protection against the flu.|
|Too Late for the Flu Vaccine? The flu vaccine is usually offered between September and mid-November. Even though it's best to get it then, being vaccinated later can still help protect against the flu.|
|First Aid: The Flu Telltale signs of the flu include a sore throat, body aches and fever. Here's what to do if your child has the flu.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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