When To Call The Doctor
Whenever you suspect that your baby or toddler has caught the flu, call your doctor right away. And be sure to contact your pediatrician immediately if you notice the following troubling symptoms:
- If your baby is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, call the doctor immediately. The flu can lead to serious complications, especially in young babies since they havent had a chance to build up their immune systems yet. If your baby is between 3 months and 3 years old, call your doctor with any fever of more than 100.4 degrees F because your child will need to be tested for COVID-19 to rule that out. If her temperature reaches 101.5 degrees F or higher, youll want your child to be checked even if she has tested negative for the coronavirus.
- Extreme irritability
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Fever with any type of rash
- Symptoms improve but then return worse than before
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color or lips
- Your child seems confused, is not interacting or waking up, or has seizures
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Many kids do just fine with home treatment for the flu. However, it often makes sense to stay in touch with their medical provider anyway. Here are some reasons to call your childs doctor about the flu:
If you know that your child has an underlying medical condition and you think they have been exposed to the flu, or are coming down with flu symptoms. They might benefit from an antiviral medication.
If you think your child might be getting dehydrated.
If you believe their cough or breathing are getting worse, or if you think they might be wheezing.
If you want your child to be tested for the flu. This is important if your child will be around babies, grandparents, or other vulnerable people. It can also help sort out if their symptoms are being caused by another illness like strep throat, a sinus infection, or COVID-19.
For most children, flu symptoms start quickly and go away slowly. If your child starts to recover from the flu, but then takes a turn for the worse, call your doctor. In addition, a fever that lasts longer than 5 days, or a cough that doesnt go away after 2 weeks, is worth discussing with a medical provider.
Keep a close eye on your childs symptoms while they are sick. Call your medical provider during office hours to get advice. Often a daytime phone call can save your sick child a nighttime trip to the emergency room.
Immediate Action Required: Phone 999 Or Go To A& e If Your Child:
- stops breathing or has pauses in their breathing
- has severe difficulty breathing, such as grunting or noisy breathing
- looks seriously unwell – for example very pale, grey, or white, or has mottling on their arms, legs or body
- isnt showing normal colour of skin, lips and tongue very pale, blue or purple
- isnt awake and can’t be wakened, or is very difficult to waken
- is breathing very rapidly, even when resting and when not upset or crying
Always trust your instincts and phone 999 if you think there’s an emergency.
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If My Child Vomits Should I Give Another Dose
No. If your child vomits up their medicine or spits some of it out, you may be tempted to give another dose. But you can’t be sure how much of the OTC medicine your child actually swallowed, and giving another full dose risks giving too much. Instead, call your pediatrician for instructions. If your child hates the taste of the medicine, ask your pharmacist if you can mix it with a favorite food or drink.
Which Flu Treatments Are Helpful For Children
Healthy children older than age 5 can usually fight the flu without specific treatment. However, kids who have asthma, wheezing, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, neuromuscular disease, or other medical problems often benefit from a prescription antiviral medication like , , or .
Here are some additional tips for helping school-age kids with influenza:
Children need additional rest when they have the flu.
Keep your child hydrated by offering lots of clear fluids, including broth and decaffeinated tea.
Steamy beverages and warm baths or showers can help loosen nasal congestion and soothe a sore throat in kids with the flu.
Use or to treat pain and fever.
Other over-the-counter cold medications and home remedies can be helpful for treating flu symptoms as well.
Avoid giving your child aspirin when they have the flu. Aspirin has been linked to an unusual disorder called Reye syndrome in children who have influenza. Reye syndrome causes liver and brain swelling and can trigger long-term problems.
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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.
Fighting Kids’ Cold & Flu Symptoms: Trust Your Instincts
Sometimes you just have a bad feeling something isn’t right when your child is sick at home. Here are some times when it’s best to contact your child’s pediatrician or go to a pediatric emergency department if the symptoms are unusual or severe.
When to Call a Doctor
- Your child’s temperature is higher than 101° F.
- Your child’s temperature is higher than 101° F.
- Their symptoms last more than 10 days.
- Symptoms are severe or unusual.
- Your child does not produce tears when crying.
- Your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever.
- Your child has a cough that lasts more than one week.
- Your child’s nails or lips turn blue.
- Your child has nasal mucus that lasts for longer than 10 to 14 days.
- Your child is very sleepy or cranky.
In addition, watch out for the following signs, which could spell more trouble than the usual cold or flu:
- breathing problems,
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What Prescription Medications Are Used For The Flu
Antibiotics only work on bacteria, so they wont help with the flu virus. There is no cure for the flu, but there are medicines that can help ease your childs symptoms:
- Antivirals like Tamiflu can reduce the severity of symptoms but cannot make them go away. They may help your child get better about a day sooner than they might have otherwise. They work better if started within 48 hours of the first flu symptoms, but they can still be given after 48 hours in some cases. Antivirals do have side effects. Tamiflu, for instance, causes vomiting in 10% of children who take it.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that antivirals be used only for children with especially severe symptoms and children at high risk of complications from the flu. This includes healthy children who are under 2 years of age and children of any age who have health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or cancer.
Urgent Advice: Phone Your Gp Or If Your Gp’s Closed Phone 111 If:
- your baby is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 38 °C or above
- your child is aged 3 months or older and has a temperature of 39 °C or above
- your baby has fewer wet nappies, nappies that seem drier than usual, or a dry nappy for 12 hours or more
- your baby’s having difficulty feeding
- your baby’s taking less than half their usual amount during their last 2 or 3 feeds
- you think your baby may have coronavirus symptoms
If you’re very concerned about your baby, trust your instincts and phone your GP or 111 for advice, or 999 in an emergency.
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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.
Can Kids Take Antiviral Medicine
These medicines can only be prescribed within the first 48 hours of getting sick. They may shorten the flu by 1 or 2 days. In some cases, they can prevent it. They stop the virus from reproducing, so it canât spread. Still, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.
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When My Child Has A Cold And A Cough Should I Give One Medicine Or Two
Choose medicines only for the symptoms your child has. So, it’s OK to give one multi-symptom over-the-counter medicine — as long as it fits your child’s symptoms. To avoid over-medicating your child, read and follow the directions, use the measuring device that is packaged with the medication, and don’t choose products that treat symptoms your child doesn’t have. For instance, don’t choose a multi-symptom cold medicine or cough medicine for only a sore throat.
Keep Your Child Home Until They Are Well
That doesnt necessarily mean they cant go to school or daycare until they are cough- or runny nose-free, but it does mean that they have to be fever-free for at least 24 hours, not coughing constantly, able to eat and drink, and have enough energy to do whatever school or daycare entails. Not only is this important for your childs recovery, but its important for preventing the spread of influenza. Which leads me to the last point
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Stopping The Flu/covid Collision
People are generally the most contagious with the flu 24 hours before they start having symptoms and for several days to one week after symptoms first appear. It is difficult to prevent the spread of the flu, especially among children, as they may not always know they are sick while they are still spreading the disease. By the seventh day of infection there is typically no longer a risk of infecting others.
What Is The Prognosis Of Flu In Children
It often takes a few weeks to return to normal activity after the flu. The cough may last for weeks. Effective antiviral drugs have been shown to shorten the duration of illness by one to two days when therapy is started within 48 hours of symptom onset and are recommended for those at higher than average risk of complications .
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A Drug To Treat The Flu
Steer clear of over-the-counter cold and flu medicine — they aren’t safe for children under age 4.
There are a few drawbacks, though. For one thing, it’s only effective if you use it in the first 2 days after your child gets the flu. Also, it won’t make symptoms go away, though it does make them milder and shortens the duration of symptoms by 1-3 days as in the next sentence.
Oseltamivir may make your toddler’s bout with the flu end a day or two early. Talk to your doctor about it. He may not prescribe the drug unless your child has a severe case of the flu or other underlying illnesses.
Difference Between Cold And Flu Symptoms
What appears to be flu symptoms in toddlers can be signs of other illnesses, such as a cold. Knowing what is causing a childs illness helps adults provide better care, promotes a better recovery, and reduces the risk of complications.
The following are between cold and flu symptoms in toddlers:
- Speed of onset: If symptoms come on very quickly, it is more likely to be the flu.
- Fever and chills: A high fever and chills are more likely to be signs of the flu.
- Muscle aches: Aching muscles are more common in children with the flu.
- Headache: Headaches are more frequently with the flu than with a cold.
- Low energy and appetite: Children are typically more lethargic and less hungry with the flu than a cold.
Children will typically recover in a week, but they may still feel tired for roughly 34 weeks. Key elements of successful home treatment include:
- getting plenty of rest
- using ibuprofen or acetaminophen in pediatrician-recommended dosages
People should never treat a childs fever with aspirin due to its
- lips or face turning blue
- no improvement with at-home care
A doctor will likely begin the diagnosis of the flu in a toddler by taking a complete medical history and a review of their symptoms. If needed, the doctor will test for the flu by taking a sample of the toddlers mucus from their nose or throat.
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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.
How Is The Flu Treated In A Child
Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. The goal of treatment is to help prevent or ease symptoms.
Treatment may include medicines such as:
Acetaminophen. This is to help lessen body aches and fever. Don’t give aspirin to a child with a fever.
Cough medicine. This may be prescribed by your childs healthcare provider.
Antiviral medicine. This may help to ease symptoms, and shorten the length of illness. This medicine does not cure the flu. The medicine must be started within 2 days after symptoms begin.
Antibiotics arent effective against viral infections, so they are not prescribed. Instead, treatment focuses on helping ease your childs symptoms until the illness passes.
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
Also make sure your child:
Gets lots of rest in bed
Drinks plenty of fluids
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Fighting Kids’ Cold & Flu Symptoms: Try Soft Foods
The old wives’ tale regarding a home remedy for fever in kids says, “Feed a cold and starve a fever.” That is an old myth, so ignore it. If your child is hungry, let him or her eat. Adequate nutrition is important for a healthy immune system. Here are some tips to make sure mealtime goes well for your sick child.
Feeding a Sick Kid
- Soft foods are often easier to swallow when a child has a sore throat.
- Bland foods can be easier to eat when a child’s stomach is upset. Foods such as oatmeal, soup, mashed potatoes, applesauce, and bananas can be more palatable with an upset stomach.
- Avoid foods that are spicy or that are high in fiber. Both of these can cause an upset stomache.
- Popsicles are usually a good idea as they can help hydrate as well as soothe. Crackers or even mac and cheese are also options.
- High-fat foods should be avoided, as these can be difficult to digest.
- If your child does not want to eat, offer lots of fluids and small, healthy meals.