Quick - how many people do you know with the flu? This flu season, it seems like the answer is, “All of them. Literally all of the people I know.” And despite your best efforts to keep it out of your house, your little one comes home from school with the flu. Here are some steps you can take at home to help her feel more comfortable after she’s seen her pediatrician.
Keep Your Child Hydrated
The fever that comes along with the flu can often lead to dehydration, especially when your child doesn’t feel much like eating or drinking. Because of this, fluids are vital in recovering from the flu – and this means all forms of taking in fluids. Encourage your child to drink water – this is the best way to replenish what they’re losing. Try giving fruit like grapes or melon. Ice pops are another way you’ll be able to sneak in some extra hydration. And don’t let the fluids stop internally – try keeping the air in their room moist by adding a humidifier. This will keep her nasal passages and throat from drying out, which can aggravate a cough. Speaking of dry throats, as long as your doctor says it’s OK, lozenges or even a teaspoon of honey (for children over 1 year old) can help keep your child’s throat from being overly dry during their convalescence. Warm liquids – like soups and tea – can help sooth their sore throat as well.
Meet Chills and Sweating Head-on
She’s cold and then she’s hot. This is probably because of her fever. Being prepared for this symptom can help you get out in front of it. Dress her in layers. This way, the layers can be added or taken away depending on how she feels. You can also put her in a lukewarm bath to help her feel more comfortable – just make sure the water doesn’t get too cold.
Conquer Aches and Pains
Headaches and body aches are some of the worst symptoms of the flu. If your child is experiencing these (and they likely are), over-the-counter medication may help, but ask your doctor whether they recommend giving your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen – they may not be suitable for all kids.
A warm bath may also help with some of these aches. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, asking your doctor for an antibiotic isn’t going to help. The flu is a virus and cannot be treated with antibiotics – the best course of action is to get a flu vaccine before the season gets underway to prevent or lessen the effects the flu might have. Resting is also incredibly important – not only will it help them get better, but if they’re asleep, it will give them a break from the discomfort they’re feeling.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Hug
When your kiddo feels sick, you want nothing more than to make her better. It’s important to remember that for kids, part of “feeling better” is feeling safe and loved. Sometimes, all the hot baths, medicine, and cough drops in the world don’t compare to snuggles on the couch and a hand on their back while they’re trying to fall asleep.
Take Precautions with the Rest of Your Family
Remember what I just said about hugs? This is why it’s incredibly important to make sure you and the rest of your family are protected. Wash your hands often. Don’t share glasses, toothbrushes, or utensils and, above everything else, get a flu shot. It’s not too late!
Dr. Richard Byrd is Chief of Pediatrics at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. He cares for his patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Sienna Plantation Clinic in Missouri City. His clinical interests include childhood immunizations, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, breastfeeding, preventive care, and childhood obesity.