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Much “achoo” about nothing!
What should you do if your child has the flu?
Stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing and sneezing
…most of us are all too familiar with the signs and symptoms of influenza, more commonly known as the flu. Every winter as many as a quarter of the Canadian population suffers through a case of the flu, and as most parents know, if there’s someone going around, it’s the kids that seem to get it first!
A common concern for parents at this time
is therefore deciding when to home-treat a child with flu symptoms, and when to head to the Emergency Room (ER). Dr. Harley Eisman, Director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital ER says parents should be reassured that the typical flu symptoms of mild to moderate fever, sore throat, muscle aches and pains, coughing and sneezing, in an otherwise healthy child, should not necessarily merit a trip to the ER.
“Most cases of flu can be treated at home with plenty of fluids, lots of rest and some chicken soup,” he says. While the presence of an associated fever in a child or toddler can be worrying for parents, Dr. Eisman says there is no need to panic. “Fever is a normal response when the body is fighting a virus, but parents can use over the counter fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to keep their kids comfortable.”
Dr. Eisman recommends that the time to seek medical advice is if your child is less than three months of age with suspected flu, or is lethargic or has fever that persists for 4 to 5 days.
Alternatives to emergency care
There are a number of primary care resources available for parents who are concerned about their child’s flu symptoms. The Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services has a bilingual website (
) that contains answers to many of your flu related questions, including symptoms, vaccination side effects, prevention and treatment.
Many CLSCs and local clinics also offer walk-in services for seasonal flu. To locate the clinics and CLSCs nearest you, consult the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ website (
) and enter your postal code.
Minimizing the risk for your family
The most effective way to decrease complications and reduce the impact of flu is to get a preventative vaccine shot, available at your local CLSC or doctor’s office from the beginning of November. In Quebec, the seasonal-flu shot is available free of charge for children and adults who are at increased risk of more severe infections and complications, such as
infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic underlying medical conditions.
If your child is needle-phobic, a new vaccine called FluMist is being introduced this year, which is administered via a spray into the nose. This vaccine is available from your local practitioner or pharmacy, but is not subsidized by the government at this time.
As a parent, perhaps the most important thing to reinforce is the importance of good respiratory and hand hygiene. Teaching kids to wash their hands often and cough or sneeze into the bend of their elbows can reduce the spread of flu-causing viruses and keep kids happy and healthy this winter.
The Common Cold
Treating Viral Respiratory Illness in Children
When Your Child Has a Fever
Develop a battle plan against the flu this year
Asthma and Colds in Children
<< More health topics
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