Ask the doctor: My kid has the flu

Q. My kids may have the flu.  What should I do?

child sick flu 300x198 Ask the doctor: My kid has the flu Photo

Nothing is worse than seeing your child with the flu

A. Yes, it’s that time of year again- the achy, sniffly, congested, fever time that makes our lives miserable is here.

The thing is, it’s not just a question of feeling miserable when it comes to a child suffering from the flu. Not only are children easily vulnerable to the quickly spreading influenza virus, but also it can be life-threatening!

Warning signs to watch for in your children

Symptoms of the flu, which infects the nose, throat and lungs include:

  • Fever equal or more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Mood changes like crankiness or being disagreeable
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Feeling very tired
  • Muscle soreness
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Mom & Dad Treatment

1) Administer children’s acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to help lower the temperature elevation. Refer to the dosage on the back of the package or bottle which states the proper amount based on your child’s weight. Typically the routine is every 4-6 hours for acetaminophen and 6-8 hours for ibuprofen.

2) Give a sponge bath or place your child in a bathtub filled with lukewarm water to lower temperatures.

3) Encourage fluid intake to prevent dehydration even if your child does not want to eat.  Bland foods low in fiber may also be more easily tolerated. Try:

  • Hot cereals like oatmeal
  • Gelatin
  • Breads, crackers
  • Warm beverages

Do Not:

  • Give aspirin unless instructed to do so by your pediatrician
  • Make the room too hot
  • Wrap the child in heavy blankets and excess clothing (even with chills as this may actually raise your child’s temperature)
  • Use alcohol rubs, ice or cold baths as this may induce shivering
  • Give high-sugar fruit drinks

Other Medication

There are antivirals currently available in the market to hasten recovery from the flu:

  • Must be started within 48 hours
  • Rarely have serious side effects

Consult with your pediatrician or family doctor before giving your child any over-the-counter drugs.

When is an emergency room visit warranted?

Go to the nearest emergency room if:

  • Temperatures rise above 102 degrees or returns after having gone away
  • Your child is not reactive or alert
  • Your child is unresponsive to your stimulation
  • Flu symptoms return after being resolved
  • Your child seems uncomfortable despite normal temperatures
  • Uncontrollable shivering and chills are present

How to Protect Your Other Children and Family Members

It’s hard enough dealing with one or two sick children without the virus going rampant in your home.

The following actions may help thwart the spread:

  • Toss tissues used after sneezing, coughing or collecting mucus, immediately
  • Wash hands with soap and water often after coughing, sneezing or touching used tissues for a minimum of 15-20 seconds
  • Antiseptic, alcohol-based hand cleaners may be used
  • Use a face mask

If you suspect that your child may have the flu, call your health care provider immediately.