Caring for children with the flu — Tips from AboutKidsHealth

Influenza (flu) is a respiratory infection, caused by a virus, that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Unlike some other infections, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.

To make sure you’re prepared for flu season, AboutKidsHealth has tips on how you can prevent the spread of flu and treat symptoms.

You can get the flu at any time of year, but it is most common in the fall and winter. A child with a mild flu infection will experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • sudden onset of a high fever

  • headache

  • general aches and pains

  • fatigue and weakness

  • a runny, stuffy nose

  • a sore throat

  • a cough

  • sneezing

Most flu symptoms will last two to seven days, but the cough and weakness can last for up to six weeks.

To manage flu symptoms, make sure children get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and have their fever and pain managed. You can also help ease some of their symptoms with these methods:

  • apply heat on painful areas for short periods of time

  • take a warm bath

  • gargle with a glass of warm water

To help prevent the flu, make sure you get a flu shot every year.  

Find more ways to help children with the flu in the AKH article, Influenza (flu): What to do if your child gets sick. You can also find ways to prevent the flu, including washing your hands well and often, which is the most important thing you can do to help prevent the virus from spreading.

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids' health education website, which offers more than 3,500 articles, illustrations and videos on a range of paediatric health topics. For more information on viral infections and other health topics, visit