Tips to Protect Children from the Flu | Loyola Medicine

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Loyola Medicine Pediatrician Gives Advice to Protect Children from the Flu

Mother checking child's temperature with a thermometer.

MAYWOOD, IL – Just as children are heading back to school after the winter break, the flu season has arrived.

Loyola Medicine pediatrician Bridget Boyd, MD, has some advice for parents on how to help their child fend off the flu and what to do if they do get sick.

First, it's never too late to get the flu shot. After receiving the shot, it only takes one to two weeks for the antibody response to begin working. It's recommended that children ages six months and older receive the flu shot.

"Children and the elderly are the most at risk for serious complications from the flu," Dr. Boyd said. "That's why we always stress the importance of getting the flu shot."

Schools are a perfect place for infectious diseases to thrive, so it’s important for parents to be vigilant when it comes to their child’s health.

This is also a good time to stress to children the importance of washing their hands, using tissues and coughing into their elbow. This will help children from spreading germs to their family and friends.

"A great way for kids to learn how to properly wash their hands is to have them sing the 'Happy Birthday' song twice,'" Dr. Boyd said. 

If your child gets the flu, don't panic.

Flu symptoms tend to come on abruptly and affect the entire body. Symptoms include:

  • a high fever
  • intense chills
  • body aches
  • exhaustion
  • a constant, unproductive cough

"If children are exhibiting flu symptoms, it's important they not go to school or daycare and possibly spread the virus," Dr. Boyd said. 

When it comes to treatment of the flu, age and size are a factor, she said. 

  • For children between the ages of four and six years, over-the-counter cough and cold medicine should only be administered under a physician's supervision. 
  • For children older than six, parents should be careful to read medication labels because age is only part of the equation; many of the dosage recommendations are based on weight.
  • Children of all ages can get relief from a warm mist humidifier. 
  • Children 3 months to 12 months old should be given warm, clear fluids such as water, apple juice and an oral electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte.
  • Children who are older than one year old can be given a half to a full teaspoon of honey, which is a natural cough suppressant that helps thin secretions.
  • Children older than 6 years can be given cough drops.

Children are safe to go back to school or daycare when they no longer have a fever 24 hours after they last took fever-suppressing medication.

"Remember, antibiotics do not stop or limit viral infections such as the flu," Boyd said. "If you suspect your child has the flu, talk to your pediatrician about medications that may lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness."

Loyola Medicine is nationally recognized for its expertise in diagnosing and treating a broad range of pediatric conditions. For the convenience of our patients and their families, Loyola’s pediatricians see patients at the Loyola Outpatient CenterGottlieb Memorial Hospital and numerous satellite locations throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties.  

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.