October 07, 2009
H1N1— A Guide for Parents
Does My Child Have H1N1 (Swine) Flu?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to symptoms of regular influenza. Your child may have a fever (temperature of 100°F or greater), as well as:
- Sore throat
- Body aches and extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- Coughing, sneezing, runny nose
- Vomiting and diarrhea
What Should I Do If I Think It Is H1N1?
DON’T BE ALARMED
- Most cases of the flu cause mild illness and DO NOT require hospitalization.
- The majority of patients recover in three to five days with no problems.
SEPARATE YOUR CHILD FROM OTHERS
- Keep your child away from others to stop the spread of infection.
- At home, keep your child away from other people in the house.
- Don’t take your child on airplanes or buses, and do not send your child to school, daycare, church or other public places until your child is without fever and off medications that treat fever, such as Tylenol or Advil, for at least 24 hours.
- Other members of the household should also stay home if they begin to develop any fever with cough, sore throat, body aches, runny nose or headache.
PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE
- Anyone who is sick and everyone around them should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner such as Purell.
- DO NOT share eating utensils, drinking glasses, washcloths, towels, beds, pillows, etc. until everyone in the household has been free of symptoms for five days.
- COVER YOUR COUGH AND SNEEZE with the crook of your elbow or use a tissue and throw away the tissue immediately.
- Use a tissue for a runny nose, then dispose of the tissue in a wastebasket immediately.
- After using a tissue, wash your hands with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
FLU SHOULD BE TREATED AT HOME MOST OF THE TIME
- The flu is caused by a VIRUS and does NOT respond to antibiotics.
- Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) as directed on the bottle for fevers, headache and body aches.
- Have your child drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. This is especially important if your child has high fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
When Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
Sometimes it is appropriate to take your child to the doctor. Children most likely to need medical treatment from their doctor for influenza infection are those who are very young or have serious medical conditions (such as asthma, cancer or lung disease, or who are on dialysis).
If you think your child needs medical treatment, CALL your pediatrician’s office first. Your doctor may want to speak with you over the phone and recommend treatments rather than have you come into the office, where your child can infect other people.
If you go to your doctor’s office, have your child wear a mask and tell the staff immediately that he or she has flulike symptoms so you can be placed in an area away from other patients.
Most cases of flu DO NOT require treatment at the emergency room. Please DO NOT call 911 or take your child to the emergency room for flulike symptoms unless your child:
- Has fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Has bluish skin color
- Is not drinking enough fluids
- Is not waking up or not interacting with people as usual
- Is very irritable, doesn’t want to be held
- Has worsening fever and cough
- Has fever with rash
Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with nearly 95,000 patient visits and some 9,000 admissions each year. Hopkins Children’s is consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation. Hopkins Children’s is Maryland's largest children’s hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, visit www.hopkinschildrens.org.