Flu (also called influenza) is a highly contagious respiratory illness in children common in the winter season. It is caused by influenza virus and spreads easily from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or touching surfaces.
In most cases, it is self-limited and lasts less than a week, but some require hospitalization.
If left untreated, flu can lead to lung infection (pneumonia) or death.
Influenza makes your little one suddenly ill, disturbing their daily activities. Early symptoms of influenza in kids include
- Fever (103° F to 105° F)
- Muscle and joint aches
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Cough that gets worse
Children usually recover within a week but often feel exhausted for 3 to 4 weeks.
It is important to recognize flu symptoms in kids, so you can seek medical help immediately.
Who are at Risk of Flu?
A child is more at risk for the flu if they:
- Are under five years
- Are around people infected with the flu
- Have not had the flu vaccine
- Do not wash their hands after touching infected surfaces
- Have a weak immune system
Young children and children with certain underlying health conditions are at increased risk for a hospital stay or severe or complicated flu infection.
How Is the Flu Diagnosed in Your Child?
Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. The symptoms are often enough to diagnose the flu.
A nose or throat swab is done based on your child’s symptoms and overall health.
Flu Treatment in children
Treatment of influenza varies greatly depending on the age, symptoms, overall health, and severity of the condition.
- Acetaminophen – To relieve muscle aches and lowers fever
- Antiviral drugs – To shorten the duration of the disease
- Cough medicine
You should never give aspirin to your baby with the flu, as it creates severe complications.
Always consult your pediatrician before providing your child with any flu medications.
About the Influenza Vaccine
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention instructs a flu shot yearly for everyone aged six months and older
- Flu vaccines during pregnancy protect both the mother and her baby
- Children aged six months to eight years and getting the flu vaccine for the first time or who received one dose previously should get two doses separated by four weeks
The flu vaccine can cause some side effects, although they are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Quick Tips to Follow if Your Child Has Flu
- Ensure your baby gets plenty of bed rest and remains comfortable
- Make them drink a lot of fluids to keep hydrated
- Monitor their temperature regularly and avoid putting on excessive clothing
- Offer them small, nutritious meals, even when they deny eating
- Use a cool-mist humidifier to help relieve your little one’s nasal congestion
- Warm water gargles and lozenges are offered to children over the age of 3 for sore throat
- Consult your doctor immediately if your baby has an underlying condition, such as asthma or heart disease
- Do not use nasal sprays in children under the age of six
Do’s and Don’ts If Your Child Has Flu
- Do use paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Do give more fluids
- Do topical rub ointments and medicated vapors on your child’s chest
- Do administer saline nose drops
- Do vaccinate for flu annually
- Do not undress your child to reduce fever
- Do not give ice baths
- Do not use aspirin
- Do not give honey
- Do not offer over-the-counter liquid cold remedies
Cold Vs Flu
Flu and cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. They are contagious and show similar symptoms; hence it is not easy to differentiate based on the symptoms alone.
|Harmless and resolves itself
|Leads to complications if not treated
|Low or no fever
|Several weeks of fatigue
|Little or no aches
|Severe aches and pain
Flu is more dangerous than common cold as symptoms are more intense and begin suddenly.
Flu can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, and can have a significant impact on your daily life. It is important to take preventative measures, such as getting the flu vaccine and practicing good hygiene, to reduce your risk of contracting the flu. If you do get the flu, rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications can help manage your symptoms. If you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or persistent fever, seek medical attention immediately.
Remember, prevention is key when it comes to avoiding the flu.