Flu, or influenza, spreads easily and can make people very sick, especially children and teens.
The flu usually spreads from person to person when someone with the flu coughs or sneezes. Sometimes people get the flu because they touch an object or surface with flu virus on it—and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
Flu symptoms include:
- fever or chills
- body aches
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- feeling very tired
Some people, especially children, may have stomach problems and diarrhea with the flu. Unlike a cold, the flu comes on very suddenly.
Prevent the spread of flu
- The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. It is recommended every year for everyone 6 months and older. It helps make flu sickness milder or prevents it all together.
- Getting the vaccine early in the fall means you and your children will be
protected when flu season starts.
- Ask people close to your children, like babysitters and relatives, to get the
- The vaccine is especially important for people with certain health
conditions, like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung conditions because the flu
can make them even sicker.
What to do if your child gets the flu
If your child gets the flu, they will need plenty of rest and lots of fluids.
- Keep your child home from school for at least 24 hours after their fever is
gone without using fever-control medicine. This helps avoid giving the flu
- Talk with your child’s health care provider before giving a child any over-the-counter medicine.
- Never give your child or teenager aspirin or any medicine that has aspirin
in it. Aspirin can cause serious problems.
- If your child gets flu symptoms and is younger than 5 or has a medical
condition like asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease, call their health
care provider. Young children and those with certain medical conditions
are at greater risk for getting seriously ill from the flu. Ask their health care
provider if they recommend an antiviral drug.
- If you are worried about your child, call their health care provider.
Ways to stop the spread of flu
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water aren’t handy, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hands. Put used tissues in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. That’s how germs spread.
- Stay away from people who are sick.