• What to look out for

    Some people think their child has the flu when usually they just have a cold or a viral upper respiratory tract infection.

    The real flu is not that common and tends to happen during the winter.It usually spreads in a wave across the country any time from November to March. The HSE sends an alert to doctors if there is a flu outbreak.  You may also hear about it from the media.

    It is useful to know the differences between the flu and the common cold.

    With flu, the symptoms are more severe, your child will get severe muscle aches and a high fever. Headaches are very common. Your child will feel extremely weak and may find it hard to get out of bed.  After a few days your child may develop a cough.

    For most children the flu is just a nasty experience but for others it can lead to more serious illness.  The most common complication is pneumonia.  However, the flu can worsen existing conditions such as asthma.

  • What can you do

    If your child is generally fit and healthy, you can manage their symptoms at home and your child will usually get better without treatment. Keep your child indoors and make sure they rest, stay warm and drink plenty of liquids.  Visit your pharmacist for advice. Paracetamol or ibuprofen will relieve your child’s headache, muscle pains and fever. Your child can go back to their normal activities when they feel well enough.

    Children with flu are usually infectious a day before symptoms start and remain infectious for five or six days. This means they can spread the flu to others during this time. Try to avoid all unnecessary contact between your child and others until they are better.

    Coughing and sneezing spreads the germs that caused your child’s flu in the first place. Get your child to sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin the tissue immediately and get your child to wash their hands afterwards.  Wash your own hands if you have helped your child to cough or wiped their nose.

  • When to seek help

    Usually your child will not need to see the doctor.  However, if the flu symptoms are severe or last for more than a week, bring your child to the doctor.

    If your child has a chronic (long-term) medical condition, they need to see the doctor as there are special anti-viral medicines which they might need. These medicines work best if they are started within 48 hours of flu symptoms appearing.

     

    Usually, your child will not need to see the doctor.  However, if the flu symptoms are severe or last for more than a week, bring your child to the doctor. 

    If your child has a chronic (long-term) medical condition, they need to see the doctor as there are special anti-viral medicines which they might need. These medicines work best if they are started within 48 hours of flu symptoms appearing.

    Children with chronic medical conditions may develop serious complications if they get the flu. This is why these children should get the flu vaccine every year. You can get the flu vaccine from your doctor.

    Remember, flu is a virus and antibiotics cannot treat viruses.  Your child will only need antibiotics if they develop a complication such as bacterial pneumonia

    As you can probably guess, this website can never replace the advice you might get from a health professional. If you are worried about your child, please call or visit your GP or pharmacist.