How to Care for Kids When They Have the Flu

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- Over the last month, flu season has gotten worse in Iowa. It's been particularly rough on children.

Many know there are two types of viruses for the flu: Influenza A and Influenza B. Iowa physicians are reporting more cases of Influenza B this season which is known to affect kids more than adults. In fact, 32 children have already died in the U.S. from the flu, with 21 of those reported to have had the Influenza B strain.

Edward Bell, a professor at Drake who specializes in Pediatric Pharmacy, offered up a few do’s and don'ts on treating children with the flu.

The do’s-

  • Bell said to give your child some symptomatic treatments, including Tylenol and Motrin to help with the regular symptoms of the flu.
  • Many people don’t like to eat or drink when they are sick, especially children. So another tip Bell suggests is giving your child Pedialyte or an oral rehydration solution to replace all the electrolytes and the fluids they’re losing.
  • Keep your kid at home if they’re sick.
  • Take them to the hospital as soon as you realize the symptomatic treatments are not working.  There are some drugs if taken within the first 48 hours of the symptoms developing can prevent the virus from reproducing in the body.

Bell also continued to stress how important it is to get the flu shot.

“Of course you can't protect everybody out in the community. If you go to a mall or busy store, you can't screen people,” Bell said. “That's why we try to get the public immunized so we can protect the general public.

The don’ts-

  • Don’t give your child Aspirin. Aspirin in kids under 18 can cause the fatal condition, Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Don’t buy over the counter products that say they help with cough and cold symptoms because they are usually not effective. Bell said especially don’t give your child liquid drugs because it’s easy to give a child too much.
  • Don’t give your child anything high in sugar, it can make the symptoms of the flu worse.

The biggest piece of advice Bell had for parents was to not underestimate the flu.

“We typically think of an older person frail in the nursing home, as the one that dies from influenza and they're at higher risk. But young babies, children and really anybody can die from influenza, and there are case reports about that. So I think people underestimate how dangerous it is,” Bell said.

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