Flu drugs in children: types and tips for use

Is it necessary to use flu medicine in children? If so, how to do it? Read on and know what precautions to take into account.

Last update: December 19, 2021

Various flu medications are used in children. Among the most common are antibiotics, antihistamines and decongestants. But are such drugs necessary?

It is worth noting that, in general, over-the-counter flu medications are not effective in curing the disease; they only relieve symptoms. However, some are considered to be harmful, particularly in children under 2 years of age.

Thus, use is not recommended of all kinds of flu medicines in children up to 12 years. And even when used, certain precautions must be taken.

Precautions When Using Flu Medications In Children

The flu can cause stress and worry for parents. And there are many myths about childhood flu. In this vein, it is understandable that adults consider giving their children medication as an alternative.

However, in most cases, the flu tends to get better on its own and medications do not alter or accelerate the natural course. Over-the-counter fluids are also often thought of as an alternative to help alleviate symptoms, but this is an issue that should not be taken lightly.

In this regard, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert on the use of flu medications in children. In it it is mentioned that most problems with these drugs occur if they are given too often or if more than the recommended amount is used.

It may happen, in particular, that formulas that are for adults are used in children. This should be avoided at all costs. It is not even advisable to try to reduce the dose. It is risky and not always accurate.

In addition to this, there are chances of side effects when giving flu medicine to children. For example, It is recommended that minors who are recovering from chickenpox or respiratory symptoms avoid taking aspirinas this has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but life-threatening illness.

Influenza in children should be controlled, but it is very likely that specific drugs are not required for its treatment.

Types of Flu Medicines in Children

There are different medications used to treat the flu. Let’s see below which are the most common use in children.


Antibiotics are prescribed when there are bacterial infections. While some people give them to their children when they have colds or the flu, they actually have no effect in those cases. On the other hand, its prolonged administration increases the chances of later contracting a resistant infection.


Acetaminophen or paracetamol is the active ingredient in various over-the-counter medications. It is given for the purpose of reducing fever and relieving other symptoms, such as pain. However, the problem with this component is that it is present in different anti-flu.

In this way, the dose can be doubled when taking it in tablets and in a granulated anti-flu, for example. Symptoms of an acetaminophen overdose include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Some deaths have even been reported in investigations.


As the name implies, decongestants are used as drugs to relieve a stuffy nose. The same would help reduce runny nose, by narrowing the blood vessels in the fossae. Although effective, the side effects of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (their main components) include hyperactivity reactions and irritability.


With antihistamines it seeks to minimize allergic reactions, as well as treat various symptoms of colds and flu. Many over-the-counter anti-allergy and flu formulas combine decongestants and antihistamines. Side effects of the latter can include blurred vision, drowsiness, nervousness, and dizziness.

Cough suppressants or cough suppressants

Antitussive or antitussive are the terms used to refer to drugs prescribed to calm coughs. They act on the central nervous system, helping to suppress such a reaction.

They are usually used when coughing spells affect rest and other activities (such as staying in school). However, opioid cough suppressants (codeine) can cause various reactions, such as drowsiness, slow and difficult breathing.

The use of codeine in flu medications is not recommended for children under the age of 12.

Mucolytics and expectorants

Contrary to the previous ones, expectorants seek to stimulate a productive cough, understood as one that helps in the elimination of bronchial secretions. For their part, mucolytics modify the characteristics of these secretions, so that it is easier to expel them.

Over-the-counter cough syrups don’t always make sense in a treatment. Many are contraindicated at certain ages.


Lastly, different combination formulas are also used in flu medications in children. Most fluids include several types of ingredients:

  • Decongestants.
  • Antitussives.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Antihistamines.

With these presentations you have to be very careful. The interaction of the active principles could lead to adverse effects and unexpected reactions.

How to help your child when he has the flu?

Flu medications can be used in children, as long as they are prescribed by a doctor. Otherwise, it is not at all advisable to administer them on your own accord.

Take into account the following general recommendations:

  • Follow dosage guidelines exactly.
  • If the package includes a syringe or dropper, use the medicine measure and not the spoon for the food.
  • Do not use paracetamol in children under 3 months, ibuprofen in children under 6 months or aspirin in children under 3 years.
  • Avoid using medications that are for multiple symptoms.
  • Don’t give flu medicine to children if they are vomiting or show signs of dehydration.
  • Remember that honey should not be given to children under 12 months, due to the risk of botulism.

Instead of giving flu medications to children, their symptoms can be relieved using other mechanisms and strategies. You can suck the nose with a pear to remove excess mucus in children under one year of age.

You must give him plenty of fluids to keep him hydrated.. The pediatrician will tell you if it is necessary to add drugs and what to monitor for vital signs to identify a complication early.

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