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Flu, also called influenza, is caused by a virus. Flu tends to come on more quickly and is usually worse than a cold. Your child may suddenly develop a fever, chills, body aches, a headache, and a cough. The fever, chills, and body aches can last for 5 to 7 days. Your child may have a cough, a runny nose, and a sore throat for another week or more. Family members can get the flu from coughs or sneezes or by touching something that your child has coughed or sneezed on.
Most of the time, the flu does not need any medicine other than acetaminophen (Tylenol). But sometimes doctors prescribe antiviral medicines. If started within 2 days of your child getting the flu, these medicines can help prevent problems from the flu and help your child get better a day or two sooner than he or she would without the medicine.
Your doctor will not prescribe an antibiotic for the flu, because antibiotics do not work for viruses. But sometimes children get an ear infection or other bacterial infections with the flu. Antibiotics may be used in these cases.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: February 24, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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