The flu is a viral infection of the nose, throat, trachea and bronchi, and is not treatable with antibiotics. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, severe cough and fever as high as 105◦. The flu may also make your child have more muscle pain, headaches and chills than usual colds. For most healthy people, the symptoms are similar to a cold, but more severe, and the onset of the flu is more sudden. The fever usually lasts 5-7 days, the runny or stuffy nose 1-2 weeks and the cough 2-3 weeks. Your physician may recommend oral antiviral medications if symptoms of fever have occurred less than 48 hours. The best way to prevent flu is with yearly vaccination.
How can I take care of my child?
Feeling very sick for the first 5-7 days is common. The treatment of flu is with fever reducers, fluids and rest. Over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children older than 2 years may be beneficial.
Runny nose – Blow nose (or suction for young children). If irritation develops around nostrils, soothe the skin with petroleum jelly; Stuffy/blocked nose – Use saline nasal washes or nose spray to loosen dried mucus, followed by blowing or suctioning nose. Repeat until discharge is clear whenever child can’t breathe through their nose; Cough with Sore throats – refer to Colds. Fever If your child develops a fever over 102◦, use acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 6 hours or ibuprofen (Advil) every 8 hours. Encourage your child to drink extra water to prevent dehydration, and to thin nasal secretions; Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry. Caution: Do not give aspirin to children and adolescents who might have influenza because it may lead to Reye’s syndrome. Read all medication labels to ensure your child is not receiving multiple does of the same medication. Do not give cold medicine to any child under the age of 2, unless directed by your doctor. Further, cold medicines are not recommended under the age of 2. Over-the-counter decongestants (pseudoephedrine) are not recommended due to potential side effects. Please note that antibiotics are not helpful unless your child develops an ear or sinus infection.
When to Call
Call during office hours if your child develops any complications such as an earache, sinus pain or pressure, or has a fever lasting more than three days. Call our office immediately if your child:
- is having moderate trouble breathing because of a stuffy nose.
- is having signs of dehydration.
- is extremely lethargic.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if your child:
- has severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, making grunting noises with each breath, unable to speak or cry because of difficulty breathing or severe retractions).
- is difficult to awaken or not alert when awake.
- is very weak (doesn’t move or make eye contact).
- has blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips, gums or face.