First Aid

The flu (influenza) is a viral infection that usually starts out like a cold, but can cause a more serious illness. Most kids who get the flu get over the infection without any problems. Flu viruses usually cause the most illness during the colder months of the year.

Signs and Symptoms

  • fever that comes on suddenly
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • ear pain

What to Do

If Your Child Has Flu Symptoms:

  • Let your child rest as much as needed.
  • Keep your child hydrated with plenty of liquids.
  • Relieve symptoms with:
    • a cool-mist humidifier
    • saline (saltwater) nose drops
    • acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen (give according to package directions)

Never give aspirin to a child with the flu. Don't give cough or cold medicine to children under 6 years old (call the doctor first for older kids).

Call your doctor if you have any questions, or if your child has an underlying health condition.

Get 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 fever that lasts for 5 or more days
  • a stiff neck
  • a headache that doesn't go away after acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Think Prevention!

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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