There are steps you can take to avoid the flu coming into your house. While there’s no guaranteed way — including being vaccinated — to have 100% protection from the flu, there are things you and your family can do to make spreading the flu less likely:
- Wash your hands well and often with soap, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating or preparing food.
- Never pick up used tissues.
- Don’t share cups and eating utensils.
- Stay home from work or school when you’re sick with the flu.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put it in the trash. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not into your hands.
But what if your child does catch the flu? When should you switch from R&R to the ER?
Nemours pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Chris Makris, advises parents to seek medical attention right away if your child:
- is breathing rapidly
- has trouble breathing
- is excessively pale or is at all blue
- is unable to drink and keep fluids down
- is not urinating
- will not wake up
- is inconsolable
- has fever that is greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, with a rash
If you think your child has the flu, Dr. Makris recommends treating the fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol), avoiding aspirin, and making sure they drink plenty of fluids. It’s okay if your child doesn’t feel like eating for a couple of days, as long as they’re still drinking and urinating. Their appetite will come back soon enough.
Dr. Makris warns that a major complication of the flu is a secondary infection, which develops because the immune system is weakened by the flu illness. Contact your doctor immediately if your child was getting better and then has a recurrence of symptoms including fever, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, drowsiness or a rash with fever.
If you or your child haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s not too late! In this “Answers to Grow On” video, Nemours pediatrician Dr. Amanda Micucio talks about why parents should have their kids vaccinated to help protect them during the flu season.