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Flu in Children

Flu in Children

Influenza, or the flu, is a severe viral infection affecting the respiratory system – especially during the winter months.

The virus is split into three types: A, B, and C. What truly makes the influenza virus so strong and contagious is its ability to camouflage its presence in the body.

Put simply, each year, the flu virus camouflages its exterior by mutating its proteins. This makes it harder for the body to become immune to the influenza viruses and each year a new flu immunization is administered to adults and children in effort to prevent infection.

How does the flu virus spread?
The flu virus spreads quickly from one person to another through coughing, sneezing, and breathing. It can also be contracted through direct contact and enter the body through the mucous membranes in the nose, mouth, or eyes. This makes the virus very common in nurseries, preschools, schools and workplaces.

What are the symptoms of the flu?
Flu symptoms usually begin within two days of exposure to the virus and include:

  • High-grade fever (38° - 40°)
  • Throat inflammation + sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches

Flu symptoms usually persist for several days, but general fatigue can persist for a long period until full recovery.

Will my child suffer from any complications?
Complications are usually limited to children who suffer from asthma, allergy and chronic illnesses.

Common complications include:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinusitis
  • Middle Ear infection

Flu symptoms usually persist for several days, but the general fatigue can remain for a long period until full recovery.

How can I treat my child's flu?
If the flu is mild, you can help your child recover by:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Administering a common fever reducer, decongestants, and/or cough medicines
  • Drinking lots of fluids

Please note that antibiotics have no effect on flu symptoms, as the flu is caused by a virus. In the event of rising complications, your pediatrician may prescribe an antibiotic.

How can I prevent the flu virus from spreading in my household?

  • Flu shots are one of the most important prevention steps. Taking the October or November flu shot can prevent flu infection by up to 80%. Pediatricians recommend the flu shot to children who suffer from chronic illnesses, asthma or allergies.
  • Avoid administering the flu shot if your child is allergic to eggs or has exhibited side effects to the shot in previous years.
  • Let your child stay at home until fully recovered from any flu symptoms to prevent spreading to other children
  • Encourage your child to use tissues when sneezing or coughing
  • Make sure your child washes his/her hand with water and soap to avoid infection of siblings
  • Discourage your child from rubbing his/her eyes, nose or mouth when encountering someone suffering from flu symptoms.
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