Flu (Influenza)

My child has the flu, how do I care for him or her?

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If your child has flu-like symptoms and he or she is younger than 5 years old or has any chronic medical conditions, contact a health care provider as soon as possible. Your child’s provider may want to prescribe antiviral medications to make your child’s symptoms less severe and help him or her feel better faster. On December 21, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the approved use of Tamiflu to treat children as young as 2 weeks old who have shown symptoms of flu for no longer than two days. Tamiflu is the only product approved to treat flu infection in children younger than 1 year old.

Follow these special instructions when caring for children and infants with the flu:

Do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu. Giving aspirin to children with the flu can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. Read ingredient labels on over-the-counter medications carefully to ensure they do not contain aspirin. To safely treat children under 2, use a suction bulb to help clear mucus and a cool-mist humidifier to make breathing easier. Do not give children younger than 4 over-the-counter cold medicines without consulting a health care provider.

Give children and teens 5 years and older cold medicines with acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®), to relieve symptoms.

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CDC: How do I know if I have the flu?

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Your respiratory illness might be the flu if you have fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Flu viruses usually cause the most illness during the colder months of the year. However, influenza can also occur outside of the typical flu season. In addition, other viruses can also cause respiratory illness similar to the flu. So, it is impossible to tell for sure if you have the flu based on symptoms alone. If your doctor needs to know for sure whether you have the flu, there are laboratory tests that can be done.

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CDC: Why getting a Flu Vaccine is important

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The first and most important step is to get a flu vaccination each year. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, you should still try to. With very few exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine as soon as vaccines are available. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk to decrease their likelihood of getting sick and possibly having serious illness. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease), and people 65 years and older.

At this point flu vaccine may be harder to find now than it was earlier in the season. You may need to contact more than one provider (pharmacy, health department, or doctor) to find available vaccine. San Francisco residents can contact The SF Department of Public Health at: www.sfcdcp.org/flu. To find a clinic near you, visit www.flu.gov.

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