How Can I Help Prevent The Flu In My Child
The best way to prevent flu is to have the yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is given as a shot . A nasal spray is not recommended for the 2017-2018 flu season. The CDC says this is because the nasal spray did not seem to protect against the flu over the last several flu seasons.
Each year, a new flu vaccine is available before the start of the flu season. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about how vaccines work and how well they prevent flu. The first time a child between the ages of 6 months and 8 years gets a flu vaccine, he or she will need a second flu vaccine one month later.
The vaccine is advised for all children 6 months and older. But for some children, its more critical for them to get a flu shot. The flu shot should be given to any child who has any of these:
A long-term heart or lung condition
An endocrine disorder such as diabetes
A kidney or liver disorder
Weak immune system from HIV/AIDS or long-term steroids
A blood disorder such as sickle cell disease
A flu shot should also be given to:
A child who has a family member with a chronic health condition
A child or teen taking aspirin as long-term therapy
A child with parents or caregivers at high risk of complications from the flu
Some side effects of the vaccine can be like mild flu symptoms, but the vaccine does not cause the flu. Possible side effects of the flu vaccine include:
And you can help prevent your child spreading the flu to others if you:
Cold And Flu Remedies
In addition to these treatment options, Bernstein says there are a number of ways parents can help their children feel better when a cold or flu strikes:
- Have children sit upright to help them breathe better.
- Use a bulb syringe to remove mucus from the nose.
- Use saltwater nose drops to loosen mucus.
- Use a humidifier or vaporizer in the childs bedroom to help loosen nasal congestion.
- Have children drink plenty of fluids.
Bernstein also recommends frequent hand-washing helps to kill germs and prevent the spread of colds and flu. Other ways to curtail the spread of cold and flu viruses include:
- Teaching children to cough into their elbow and turn toward their shoulder
- Not smoking in front of a child
- Not sharing tissues
- Reminding children not to touch their nose, mouth, or eyes
- Cleaning door handles, bathroom facilities, and childrens toys with an anti-bacterial disinfectant
While children are not more susceptible than adults to cold and flu, their exposure tends to be higher. Because of their ability to share their secretions and because they are not inclined to use the best hand hygiene, children spread germs more readily than adults, Bernstein explains.
Fighting Kids’ Cold & Flu Symptoms: Calming A Cough
If the cough does not really bother your child, it may not require treatment. Coughing helps clear the chest of mucus. Coughs in children usually only need treatment if the cough causes discomfort or disrupts sleep. If it is necessary to treat your child, here are a few home remedies for coughs for kids.
Fighting a Child’s Cough
- A humidifier or vaporizer in your child’s room can help ease coughing symptoms.
- Like a humidifier, breathing in steam from a warm shower can ease a cough.
- Children 3 months to 1 year old can have warm, clear fluids such as warm water or juice no honey.
- A spoonful of honey before bed has been shown to reduce coughing in children over 1 year old. It helps thin mucus and loosens the cough.
As with sore throats, lozenges can help relieve a cough for older children who are not in danger of choking on them. Ask their pediatrician if you are unsure.
Elevating your child’s head with extra pillows can help relieve a cough that isn’t producing mucus. This is an acceptable dry cough home remedy for kids.
Children under 4 should not be given medications containing dextromethorphan . Children 4-11 can take DXM, but use caution and follow the directions carefully. Do not use a household spoon to measure the medicationonly use the measuring spoon or cup that came with the medication.
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Treatments For The Flu In Babies And Toddlers
First and foremost, get your child in to see the pediatrician to diagnose and treat the flu. At home, your focus will be making sure your baby or toddler is comfortable and getting her the care needed to recover.
Your doctor will probably suggest the following flu treatments :
A few other tips in terms of what to do about the flu in your baby or toddler:
Since the flu often makes you feel alternately hot and then chilled, you might want to dress your child in layers that you can remove or add when needed.
You might want to use a few saline nose drops followed by a rubber suction bulb to clear clogged mucus, especially if the nasal congestion is preventing your child from resting, eating or staying comfortable.
A cool-mist humidifier running in your child’s room, especially at night, can also be helpful .
Never give babies and young toddlers any over-the-counter children’s cold and flu medications, as they don’t help and can be harmful. Always check in with your doctor about what you can do to help your child recover from the flu.
What Is The Flu
Flu is short for influenza. Its a respiratory illness, meaning it affects the parts of the body involved in breathing: the nose, throat, lungs, and so on. Children who get the flu often have a sore throat, cough, and fever.
How long does the flu last in kids? Most children recover within a week, but mild symptoms may last up to a month. Each child will respond a little differently, but heres what to expect in general:
- High fever for two to three days
- Congestion lasting one to two weeks
- Coughing for two to three weeks
- Feeling very tired for up to four weeks
The flu is most contagious in the 24 hours before symptoms start and during the first three to four days of illness. Children may be able to spread the flu to others for more than a week after they first have symptoms. Keep your child at home until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
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Help Your Child Find Relief With These Pediatrician
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , symptoms of the flu can include sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. If your child is feeling sick, help them feel better by encouraging rest and keeping them hydrated. You can also try these kid-friendly flu home remedies to give relief.
Get Vaccinated Before Flu Season
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months get the flu shot. Ideally, you should get vaccinated as soon as possible, or at least by Halloween, but you can receive the shot throughout flu season. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies each year, but it usually reduces the risk of illness by 40 to 60 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The shot also reduces the severity and duration of the flu, if you still happen to get it.
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Some Children Are At Higher Risk
Children at greatest risk of serious flu-related complications include the following:
Fighting Kids’ Cold & Flu Symptoms: Cold Medicine
For most children, home remedies are the best treatment. Since most colds are caused by viruses, all you can do is treat the symptoms and let the body heal on its own.
Tips for Giving Cold Medicine to Children
- If you think your child needs medicine, talk to your child’s doctor first.
- Never give children medications meant for adults
- Read labels carefully so you don’t give more than one medicine with the same ingredients.
Many cold medicines contain acetaminophen, so be careful not to give your child acetaminophen or another fever reducer at the same time or your child will receive too high of a dose that could be dangerous. Infants and young children under the age of 4 should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines because of the potential risk of dangerous side effects. Always check with your child’s pediatrician before administering medication, even over-the-counter medication, to your child.
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How Do I Know If My Toddler Has A Cold Or The Flu
The common cold and the seasonal flu may seem similar, as theyre both respiratory illnesses and they share many of the same symptoms. The big difference between a cold and the flu is the speed at which symptoms appear and their severity.
Common cold symptoms are usually on the mild side, come on gradually and may include a low-grade fever, while the flu is accompanied by abrupt symptoms and a sudden temperature spike, usually over 101 degrees F. In general, the flu hits kids harder than a common cold, leaving them feeling sicker and more uncomfortable.
What’s The Difference Between The Flu And The Stomach Flu
Dont confuse influenza with the stomach flu . Thats caused by a variety of other viruses that don’t include influenza and leads to severe diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes with fever.
Though influenza can come with vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, there are other symptoms like body aches, fever, chills, sore throat and congestion or cough that don’t accompany stomach viruses. Plus gastroenteritis usually goes away much faster.
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Create A Comfortable Sick Space
Stock it with blankets, disinfectant wipes and spray, tissues , plenty of fluids, and any toys, books, games, crafts, or electronics your kid likes. You should also supply multiple layers of clothing or blankets to help with fever. Sick family members should use a separate bathroom and have a dedicated trash can with a lid and lined with a plastic bag to keep germs contained. When weather permits, open a window in the sickroomor use a fanto keep air circulating.
How Long Do Toddler Colds Last
You can expect a toddlers cold to last between seven and 10 days, but it may continue for up to two weeks. And a cough, one of the last cold symptoms to appear, can hang on even longer sometimes up to a month.
Keep in mind that the common cold is quite contagious, passing from person to person via touch or airborne particles, so it may spread for a couple of weeks after your child falls ill.
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How Do You Treat A Child’s Stomach Virus
The best ways to treat the stomach flu in kids are hydration and rest. “For hydration, use a rehydration solution that’s available in any store and over the counter,” says Dr. Rojas. “Start with small sips and increase gradually, so they don’t vomit it up.”
Water alone may not be enough to rehydrate kids safely, especially younger children. Kids lose electrolytes when they vomit or have diarrhea. This can lead to low sodium in the blood, a dangerous situation. A rehydration solution, like Pedialyte, replenishes fluids and electrolytes. Broth can also be helpful.
You can also make a rehydration solution at home by combining 4 ¼ cups of water, 6 teaspoons of sugar and a ½ teaspoon of salt.
Dr. Rojas also recommends lots of rest for children. Rest can help the digestive system settle and heal.
How Can I Prevent The Spread Of Influenza
- Influenza can be prevented through immunization. Children over 6 months old should get a flu shot each year.
- If there are children younger than 5 years old or someone with a serious chronic condition in your home, everyone living in the house should get a flu shot. This is especially important if there are children under 6 months old in the home, since babies this age cant get the flu shot themselves and could become infected if a family member gets the flu.
- Handwashing is the most important way to reduce the spread of viruses.
- Keep babies under 3 months old away from people who are sick, if possible.
- Teach your children to cover their nose and mouth with tissues when they sneeze or cough, or to cough into their upper sleeve or elbow.
- Avoid sharing toys that young children place in their mouths until the toys have been cleaned.
- Avoid sharing cups, utensils or towels until they have been washed.
- If your child attends daycare, tell the caregiver about any symptoms and ask if your child should stay home that day.
- Make sure your child receives all of the recommended vaccines. They will help prevent some of the complications, such as bacterial infections of the ears or lungs.
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What Are Flu Symptoms And Signs
Unlike a cold, the flu comes on suddenly. It is not uncommon for a child who seemed perfectly well the day before to spike a fever of 103°F. Symptoms vary, but can include:
- The flu usually, but not always, causes a fever of at least 101°F. Your childs temperature may go up as high as 103° or 104°F in the first few days of illness.
- A child with the flu may feel very cold, even if they are in a warm room. They may shiver and shake.
Headache and body aches
- The headaches caused by the flu are much more painful than the mild headache you get with a cold. And if your child tells you they hurt all over, they probably arent exaggerating. The flu can cause severe muscle and joint aches.
- Your child will probably feel exhausted, weak, and uninterested in active play. They will need plenty of extra rest.
Sore throat and cough
- Flu can cause a sore throat and fever, but so can an infection of strep throat. You can tell the difference by the cough: strep does not cause a cough, which the flu nearly always does. The coughing caused by the flu is dry and often severe.
Loss of appetite
- If your child is sick with the flu, they may not feel like eating in the first day or two. Offer simple foods like toast or applesauce. Its okay if they dont eat much, but its very important that they drink enough fluids. Juice or broth can help soothe their throat, ease their cough, and keep them hydrated.
Vomiting and diarrhea
Diagnosis: How To Know Your Child Has Influenza
- Influenza occurs every year in the fall and winter months. During this time, if flu symptoms occur, your child probably has the flu.
- Your child doesn’t need any special tests.
- For Low-Risk children, usually you don’t need to see your child’s doctor. If your child develops a possible complication of the flu, then call your doctor. See the “What to Do” section.
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