First Aid: The Flu

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First Aid

Sometimes mistaken for the common cold, the flu (influenza) causes more symptoms and can sometimes cause serious illness. Fortunately, most kids who get the flu get over the infection without any problems. The flu occurs most often in the winter months.

Signs and Symptoms

What to Do

If Your Child Has Flu Symptoms:

  • Call your doctor.
  • Encourage rest.
  • Keep your child hydrated with plenty of fluids — breast milk or formula for babies; water, juice, ice pops, and cool drinks for older kids (but no caffeinated drinks).
  • Relieve symptoms with:
    • a warm bath
    • a cool-mist humidifier
    • saline (saltwater) nose drops
    • acetaminophen or ibuprofen (check package for correct dosage)

Never give aspirin to a child with the flu. Do not give cough or cold medicine to children under 6 years old (call the doctor first for older kids).

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child Has:

  • symptoms that get worse
  • a severe cough
  • trouble breathing
  • a fever and is 3 months of age or younger
  • a stiff neck
  • a headache that doesn't go away after acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Think Prevention!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

Web SiteNational Immunization Program This website has information about immunizations. Call: (800) 232-2522
Web SiteCDC: Flu (Influenza) The CDC's site has up-to-date information on flu outbreaks, immunizations, symptoms, prevention, and more.
Web SiteThe History of Vaccines The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.


Related Articles

Fever and Taking Your Child's Temperature Although it can be frightening when your child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing - it's often the body's way of fighting infections.
Vomiting Most vomiting is caused by gastroenteritis, and usually isn't serious. These home-care tips can help prevent dehydration.
How Many Doses of Flu Vaccine Does My Child Need? Knowing the doctor-recommended flu vaccination schedule can be confusing. Use this tool to help you understand how many doses your child needs.
Flu Center Learn all about protecting your family from the flu and what to do if your child gets flu-like symptoms.
Immunization Schedule Which vaccines does your child need to receive and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.
How Do I Know Which Vaccines My Kids Need? Find out what the experts have to say.
Tips for Treating the Flu Here are some quick tips for helping your child get over 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.
Your Child's Immunizations: Influenza Vaccine Find out when and why your child needs to get this vaccine.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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