Home » Guide to the Wise Use of Antibiotics » Influenza


Influenza or flu is caused by a virus.  Adults with the flu can spread the virus to others for 3-5 days after symptoms begin.  Children with the flu can spread the virus to others for up to 7 days.  The “flu season” usually starts in November or December and ends in April or May.  Occasionally the flu might lead to pneumonia.


  • Get a flu vaccination.
  • Wash your hands, especially after you are with someone who is sick.  Teach your child about handwashing.
  • Use good respiratory etiquette.  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.  If you do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.  Throw away used tissues promptly.  Teach your child to use good respiratory etiquette.


  • Fever / chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Feeling tired
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose / sneezing
  • Cough


  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice.  Warm clear fluids such as soup will help the nose to drain and will relax the airways.  Offer fluids to your child if your child has the flu.
  • Get plenty of rest or allow your child to get plenty of rest.  Stay at home or keep your child at home for the first few days of illness to rest and to prevent spread to others.
  • For further information on Fever, please see More Fever Links.

When to seek medical attention:

Children:  See your doctor if your child. . .

  • Has a fever that lasts more than 3 days.
  • Has a fever plus a rash.  NOTE:  If your child has a fever and a rash, consult your doctor before entering the waiting room area.  Your doctor may ask you to wait in a separate room to avoid exposing others.
  • Has a cough that becomes severe.
  • Return of fever, after temperature from initial fever returned to normal.

Adults:  Adults should consult their doctor, nurse practitioner or provincial health help line if symptoms worsen or are unusually severe.

When to Worry about your child

Go to the emergency department if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing not caused by a stuffy nose
  • Blue lips
  • Limp or unable to move
  • Hard to wake up, unusually quiet or unresponsive
  • Stiff neck
  • Seems confused
  • Seizure