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Influenza in children

Influenza in children

In the cold winter months, the spread of the influenza virus is very rapid, both among preschoolers and schoolchildren. It is essential to differentiate between a simple cold and flu, as this information can save the child's life. A superficially treated flu, like a simple cold, can lead to complications that can endanger the life of the child, pneumonia being the best known of them.

What is the flu?

Influenza is a respiratory infection with a high degree of contagiousness produced by an influenza virus that can be of 3 types: A, B and C.

Common outbreaks are caused by viruses A and B. Each has different subgroups or strains.

This explains why every year, the virus that produces most of the flu diseases is slightly different. Children at high risk for serious or complicated flu can get the flu every year.

What is the difference between cold and flu?

The two conditions are often confused. Some parents say they have colds, even though they are infected with the flu virus, and others say they are flu-like, when in fact they are confused with just a mouthful.

Influenza and cold are diseases caused by different viruses. But because it is difficult to figure out from this point of view if the child suffers from cold or flu (influenza), the essential differences between the two respiratory infections are given by the symptoms that appear. Although they are extremely similar, they are customized in each of the 2 cases.

Flu symptoms often appear suddenly (within 3-6 hours) and are mainly characterized by fever, pain in the body (myalgia), coughing dryness and a state of increased fatigue. Cold symptoms are much less severe and are not accompanied by myalgia fever. They are mainly manifested by clogged nose or aqueous nasal secretions, coughing lightly, with expectoration and mild tiredness caused mainly by the discomfort produced by the symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

  • the sudden rise in temperature, usually above 38.3 ° C; in the old child the fever is accompanied by vomiting, and in the big child by tremors ("frieze");

  • deep fatigue and end;

  • muscle pain ("myalgia");

  • dry cough;

  • dizziness;

  • lack of appetite;

  • sore throat with severe pain;

  • colds;

  • ear pain;

  • diarrhea etc.

Children infected with the influenza virus may feel suddenly ill or look as if they are feeling ill. They can change suddenly from the face, they begin to turn red or pale, the eyes close, the state of drowsiness etc.

How long is the flu?

Influenza can last a week or more. About 5 days later, fever and some of the symptoms begin to disappear, but coughing and weakness may persist. All symptoms should disappear within a maximum of 2 weeks. In general, the flu disappears after about a week, between days 7-14 after the onset of the symptomatic wave.

How is the flu transmitted to children?

Influenza spreads from one child to another through:

  • direct contact;

  • airborne particles (cough, close talk);

  • objects contaminated with viruses through nasal secretions.

At the outbreak of an influenza epidemic, usually in the winter months, the spread is very rapid among schoolchildren and preschoolers. The virus is transmitted in the first days of the disease. There are no serious complications in children who do not suffer from other diseases.

What complications can occur?

  • Ear infections (fever, local pain) can occur secondary.

  • Pneumonia is another common complication due to an untreated flu (common cough, persistent fever, altered general condition). In such cases the doctor should be called.

  • A very serious complication (Reye's syndrome), which is favored by the administration of high doses of aspirin, can rarely occur.

How is influenza treated?

Rarely do influenza need medication treatment. The recovery mode is characterized by applying at home methods of improvement of symptoms as in the case of ordinary respiratory viruses.

When the child does not feel well it is recommended:

  • rest in bed;

  • administration of many liquids (lime tea, compotes, fruit juice, soup, diluted milk);

  • frequent and light meals;

  • frequent sleep breaks during the day;

  • ventilated room;

  • it fights Paracetamol fever (suppositories, syrups or tablets) depending on the age of the child;

  • Vitamin C in higher dose and drops in the nose with physiological serum;

  • coughing with antitussives that can be given at the age of the sick child;

  • no aspirin is given to the child.

Signs indicating that you should call your doctor

In general, you should go with the baby to the doctor from the earliest symptoms, just to determine if you have a cold or flu and the right kind of treatment.

Even if the flu is not treated with medicines, being a viral infection, a formula of medicines that can improve its symptoms can be established according to the particularities of the child. This personalized treatment to the doctor is absolutely necessary if the child suffers from chronic conditions or other diseases that could lead to the complication of the flu.

Otherwise, you should call the emergency doctor if you notice that:

  • it has a very high temperature that does not pass;

  • it seems that the symptoms recur with greater severity;

  • has respiratory problems;

  • he seems confused, dizzy, or even losing consciousness.

Measures to prevent influenza in children

  • do not kiss the child in the mouth or around the mouth;

  • the child should be taught to use a clean handkerchief when coughing or sneezing;

  • all those who come into contact with the child wash their hands before and after the care given;

  • personal items of the sick child are washed with hot water and soap;

  • the glasses, the toothbrush and the towels are individual.

Influenza vaccine in children

There are influenza vaccines: vaccines recommended by doctors and health care institutions are considered safe, effective and with minor side effects. But to know that the vast majority of children tolerate the flu quite well.

Groups of children over 6 months of age, at risk, include those suffering from: chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, symptomatic AIDS, patients receiving prolonged aspirin (rheumatoid arthritis) treatment.

Find out more about how and when the vaccine is given to both infants and children by reading the article "Influenza Vaccine in Infants"!

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