Managing Flu Symptoms

Parents can manage Influenza (or flu-like symptoms) from home using these tips

For Fever:  Use Tylenol or Motrin, following the instructions provided on the medication packaging.  Cool rags can be soothing and help your child feel better.  Cool baths are not necessary, but can be used if your child enjoys them.  Do not allow your child to have multiple blankets, but one is fine.  Please see our “Myths and Facts about Fever” page for more tips on fevers.

For Congestion:  A humidifier in the bedroom can be helpful.   Parents may use nasal saline and suction for younger children, or saline rinses for older kids.  Benadryl can be given after 6 months of age (1/2 tsp and increase to 1 tsp at age 3).  Benadryl makes children sleepy, so we suggest using it at night.  Use a daytime antihistamine during the day (Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra).  After age 4, parents may also use Sudafed, following the instructions provided on the medication packaging.  Colored mucous means your child's body is fighting the bug - it does NOT mean that your child needs antibiotics.

For Cough:  Most coughs are caused by drainage, so parents should first treat congestion using the tips listed above.  If your child's cough persists after treating for congestion, try giving them a spoonful of honey if they are over 1 year of age.  If your child does not like the flavor of honey, try giving them "Zarbees", which is a honey medication which tastes like grape.  Parents may try Delsym for cough, but it does not always help.  Parents should also try elevating their child’s head to help them sleep.  Please understand that a cough is more of an annoyance than a danger.  So long as your is breathing well and their other symptoms are okay, their cough will just have to run its course.

For Nausea/vomiting:  Ginger root or ginger ale can help with nausea.  Trying having your child take small sips of liquid, and try soup or bread-like foods.  Please do not give them large servings of anything.  Younger children can often be coaxed into taking something like a Pedialyte Popsicle or a Pedialyte liquid.   So long as your child is urinating once every 8 hours, they are staying hydrated.   Please call us if you are worried about hydration.

Other Tips:

Give your child lots of fluids and let them rest.  Flu can last anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days.  Wash your hands well and try to keep your child away from other children.

Call the doctor if your child is more irritable, does not look like their normal self, is getting dehydrated, breathing rapidly, or has fever for more than 3 days.

Some children may require Tamiflu if diagnosed with influenza in the clinic.

By following these tips, you can potentially ease your child's symptoms, help them stay comfortable, and help them get back to being well.