Facts About Flu (Influenza)

Facts About Flu (Influenza)

A virus causes influenza. Influenza usually happens in the winter and lasts from 2 to 7 days or longer. Influenza is a more serious illness than a cold.

How the flu affects us

Some signs of influenza are:

  • fever, cough
  • headache
  • body aches and pain
  • feeling weak
  • sneezing, coughing, stuffy nose
  • sore throat

Sometimes, young children may not want to eat because they have an upset stomach. They may vomit and have changes in their bowel movements. Children under five years may not have a fever.

The danger of influenza is that it makes the body weak and open to other infections such as pneumonia, a serious lung infection.

Antibiotics will not stop the influenza virus, but sometimes are needed if the child develops another infection. Anyone can get flu, but some people are more likely than others to get a serious illness with the flu.

Everyone should get a flu shot every year

Influenza is usually most dangerous in very young children under 2 years of age, the elderly (65 years and older), and children and adults with chronic health conditions such as heart or kidney disease and asthma.

How is influenza spread?

Influenza is spread in droplets

Influenza is spread in droplets coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person and can be spread by contact with things that a person with flu has touched or coughed or sneezed on.

Wash Your Hands

Good hand washing habits can prevent the spread of influenza. Staff and children should wash their hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses. Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

What to do if your child has the flu

What To Do At Home

  • Your child may need to stay at home and rest.
  • Offer your child plenty of fluids to drink.
  • Wash your hands and your child’s hands after you wipe your child’s nose. Make sure you wash your hands often and always before you prepare or eat food.
  • Teach children to use a disposable tissue or to cover their mouths with a sleeve (not hands) when they sneeze or cough and to wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Do not give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to a child under 6 years of age, unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Make sure children between ages  6 – 59 months have their flu shot.
  • Make sure your child gets pneumococcal vaccine, as part of routine childhood immunizations.

About: Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen


When to Call Your Doctor or 811

Call your doctor if your child has any of the following signs:

  • has a fever of 38.5°C or higher and is less than 6 months old
  • is listless, not interested in playing or is unusually sleepy
  • has trouble breathing, is wheezing or has chest pain when breathing
  • coughs up bloody phlegm
  • your child’s throat is very sore
  • drinks very little fluid and has not urinated at least every 6 hours when awake
  • is vomiting for more than 4 hours or has severe diarrhea
  • your child seems to get better and then gets worse after 2 or 3 days
  • has any other signs of illness that concern you

Seek Medical Care

Take your child to the emergency department immediately or call 911 if your child:

  • has severe trouble breathing, is wheezing or has chest pain when breathing
  • is limp or unable to move
  • is listless, hard to wake up or does not respond
  • has a stiff neck
  • is confused
  • has a seizure (convulsion)

Children with influenza MAY go to school or the child care centre WHEN:

  • they feel well enough to take part in activities.