We’re right in the heart of flu season, and lots of children are starting to get congested, feel achy, and run a high fever. Anyone can come down with the flu at any time. But children or adolescents with complex medical conditions or special health care needs face a higher risk of complications from the illness. If your child has a hard time communicating how they feel, it can be tough to know how to comfort them. Here are six ways to soothe your child from common symptoms of the flu.
- Clear that stuffy nose
When your child is congested, a cool-mist humidifier or a steamy shower can help loosen things up. Don’t dismiss the power of chicken soup, either. Research shows the steam from the soup really does help clear congestion. If you think your child needs medicine, talk with your doctor.
- Care for the cough
Coughing is normal for someone with the flu. It often goes away on its own. But if your child has any trouble breathing or sleeping because of the cough, a vaporizer or humidifier can help here too. Children over one year of age can also take a teaspoon of honey. Cough medicine is usually generally not recommended in children.
- Look for changes in breathing
Pay close attention to your child's breathing, listening for wheezes or high-pitched whistling. These may indicate that your child is having a hard time breathing and needs to be evaluated. Other breathing issues to look out for include faster than normal breathing (especially in the absence of fever), retractions, “belly breathing,” and shortness of breath when talking. All of these are reasons to call the doctor right away.
- Ease their aches and pains
The flu can bring a headache and body aches. To ease the pain, you can give a child older than 6 months either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your doctor can let you know the right dose for your child based on their age and weight. Don't give your child baby aspirin unless the doctor says you can.
- Lower that fever
First, you should call the doctor if your child has a fever over 104° F or a fever of 101° or higher that lasts for more than 72 hours. You should also call if your little one with fever is younger than 6 months old or has not been vaccinated. You can give your child acetaminophen and ibuprofen – but again, no baby aspirin unless your doctor says it’s OK. To make your child feel more comfortable, dress them in light clothing. And be sure they drink often to avoid getting dehydrated.
- Speaking of dehydration…
The flu sometimes brings diarrhea and vomiting. In this case, your child can get dehydrated quickly. Pedialyte, clear soups, water, or juice mixed with water can help. You can go slowly at first. You can start with a few teaspoons every 5 minutes – and build from there when your child can drink without vomiting. If your child throws up more than once – or if they do not urinate as much as they usually do – call the doctor.
We can help
Imagine Pediatrics is here to improve the health and lives of children with medical complexity and special health care needs. We provide virtual health care 24/7. So you can get support for your child anytime without leaving your home. We do not replace your child’s doctors. We team up with them to give your child medical, behavioral, and social care and support whenever they need it. Learn more about how we can help at www.imaginepediatrics.org/how-it-works or call us 833-208-7770.