-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Flu season is especially bad
in the United States this year, and young children with the flu
tend to suffer more than others because they can't take
over-the-counter medications to help relieve their symptoms.
Cough and cold medications can have serious side effects if
taken by young children, including rapid heart rate and
"These medications should never be used by children under the age of 4 and only under a physician's supervision if under the age of 6," Dr. Bridget Boyd, a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
Unable to use medications, parents may feel helpless. But there
are ways they can safely relieve their children's flu symptoms,
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 1 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 of all ages can get relief from a warm mist humidifier
or exposure to steam from a shower, Boyd added.
"The best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is a flu shot. The vaccine provides protection from three different strains of influenza," she said. "It is possible for you to become ill with the flu more than once a season, so just because you had the flu doesn't mean you can't get sick again."
Along with the flu shot, correct hand washing is another
effective way to prevent the spread of the flu. Boyd said parents
and children should:
Flu patients should try to cough into a tissue. If that's not
possible, cough into your flexed arm at the elbow. This will help
reduce the spread of flu germs.
"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 lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
children, the flu and the flu vaccine.
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