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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Whooping cough is rising at an alarming rate in the U.S.

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The country appears to be headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades, with the number of cases rising at an epidemic rate that experts say may be a result of the ineffectiveness of the vaccine.

Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far — more than twice the number seen at this point last year, stated the Centers for Disease Control.

The number for the entire year will be the highest since 1959, when 40,000 illnesses were reported. Nine children have died, and health officials called on adults — especially pregnant women and those who spend time around children — to get a booster shot as soon as possible.

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