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First Aid: The Flu

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!

  • Get the flu vaccine each year.
  • Try to avoid large crowds during flu season.
  • Wash hands well and often.
Date reviewed: June 2016

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

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