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  • The Flu: A Guide for Parents


    What are the signs of the flu?

    The flu comes on suddenly. Most people with the flu feel very tired and have a high fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles.  Some people, especially children, may also have stomach problems and diarrhea.  The cough can last two or more weeks.


    How is the flu spread?

    People who have the flu usually cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose.  The droplets in a cough, sneeze or runny nose contain the flu virus.  Other people can get the flu by breathing in these droplets or by getting them in their nose or mouth.


    How long can sick people spread the flu?

    Most healthy adults may be able to spread the flu from one day before getting sick to up to 5 days days after getting sick.  This can be longer in children and in people who don't fight disease as well (people with weaker immune systems).


    What can I do if my child gets sick?

    • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids.
    • Talk with your child's health care provider before giving your child over-the-counter medicine.
    • Never give your child or teen aspirin, or medicine that has aspirin in it. It can cause serious problems.
    • Call your child's health care provider if your child develops flu symptoms and is younger than 5 or has a chronic medical condition like asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease.
    • If you are worried about your child's illness, call your health care provider.

    When can my child go back to school after having the flu?

    Children with the flu should be isolated in the home, away from other people.  The should also stay home until they have no fever without the use of fever-control medicines and they feel well for 24 hours.  Remind your child to protect others by covering his or her mouth when coughing or sneezing.  You may want to send your child to school with some tissues, and a hand sanitizer.