Influenza, Child

Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. Flu is a serious illness. Since it is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not useful against it. Your child's caregiver may prescribe antiviral medicines to shorten the illness and lessen the severity. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, cough, and muscle aches. The fever will often last up to 5 days. Your child may have a persistent cough and feel tired for 2 to 3 weeks.

The treatment is to make your child comfortable. Only give your child over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver. Do not use aspirin. Use a cool mist vaporizer to help relieve cough and congestion. Encourage large amounts of liquids. Cough syrups can be helpful for coughs that keep a child awake.


  • Your child has a fever that lasts more than 5 days.

  • Your child has a fever that returns after being gone for a day or more.

  • Your child has ear pain (in young children and babies this may cause crying and waking at night).

  • Your child has chest pain.

  • Your child has a cough that is worsening or causing vomiting.


  • Your child has trouble breathing or fast breathing.

  • Your child has signs of dehydration:

  • Confusion or decreased alertness.

  • Tiredness and sluggishness (lethargy).

  • Rapid breathing or pulse.

  • Weakness or limpness

  • Sunken eyes.

  • Pale skin.

  • Dry mouth.

  • No tears when crying.

  • No urine for 8 hours.

  • Your child develops confusion or unusual sleepiness.

  • Your child has convulsions (seizures).

  • Your child has severe neck pain or stiffness.

  • Your child has a severe headache.

  • Your child has severe muscle pain or swelling.