If you’d like to know more about the prevention and treatment of flu or when to see a doctor & seek medical care, then you would want to read this. You will also get to know the difference between common flu and the flu caused by influenza virus infection.
In general, Flu means an episode of a combination of symptoms like runny nose, nose block, cough, throat irritation, headache, body aches and fever.
Flu symptoms are caused by viruses.
Kids get the infection due to close contact with people having the same infection. Contact with objects contaminated by an infected person can also cause an infection.
Influenza caused by the Influenza virus also is called flu. Symptoms of influenza will be more severe such as very high fever and extreme weakness of the body. Chances of developing complications like Pneumonia is higher in influenza infection than in common flu. Flu COVID 19 guide
A nose swab test by a paediatrician can help diagnose an Influenza.
To reduce the severity of Influenza, there are Anti-influenza medicines that can be prescribed by a paediatrician.
However, there are no medicines to cure the common flu. The best way to treat your child is to make him rest and comfortable. Antibiotics are of no use against common flu.
Here are a few tips on how to treat and lessen the severity of the symptoms:
- It is recommended for kids having a common cold, flu or influenza, to give plenty of fluids such as fresh juices, milk, soups, and water. To reduce fever, a paediatrician can prescribe Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.
- Saltwater nasal sprays or drops help clear nasal blocks.
- A cool-mist humidifier placed at a safe distance but close to the child will help to moisten the nose and throat and therefore will make the secretions thinner. The humidifier must be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and moulds. Please avoid direct steam inhalation because of the risk of accidental burns from water or steam.
- Sometimes, a mild occasional cough doesn’t require any medications. Honey put in a mug of warm water can be given to kids above 1 year of age to control coughing. Please use cough and cold medications only if advised by your doctor. The ingredients can be dangerous in younger kids if used inappropriately.
- Mentholated rubs can be used on the front side of the neck and chest. It has a soothing effect.
- Wear a mask, frequent hand washing or sanitizing the hands are the most important measures in preventing the spread of the flu. Toys and other shared things should be sanitized regularly.
- Getting flu symptoms 8-10 times yearly is normal and is not a sign of low immunity. Parents should make sure that the child is having a balanced and healthy diet. Multivitamin supplements help in a small way.
- The annual Influenza vaccine which is given before winter (by the month of September in UAE) helps prevent influenza infection. Parents should realize that this vaccine doesn’t give any protection against the common flu which is caused by other viruses.
When to seek medical care:
Please visit the paediatrician if your child is having a high fever – and if the fever is lasting more than 2 days or if the other symptoms are getting severe and not getting relieved by the home remedies. You should visit the paediatrician if your child is tired and weak.
Please seek emergency medical care if your child is having breathing difficulty, appearing bluish and pale, appearing very tired and weak or if having any other unusual symptoms.
Vaccines for flu – what and when should children take them?
The influenza vaccine is an annual vaccine taken in the month of September or October before the real influenza season starts. It can be taken from the age of 6 months and above. In the first year of vaccination, children should receive 2 doses, 1 month apart, if they are below the age of 9 years. In the subsequent years, children should take one vaccine.
• Any test to see if this is the flu or any other disease:
There are rapid tests available to detect Influenza is very reliable. Flu COVID 19 guide Flu COVID 19 guide
• How are flu symptoms different from tt symptoms?
It is very difficult to differentiate between COVID infection and Influenza depending on the symptoms. History of contact helps often. It is always better to do the test and initiate treatment if needed. There are antiviral medicines available for Influenza which decreases the severity and duration of illness if started early.
This Article is contributed by Dr. Manoj Chandran, Specialist Paediatrician at the Medcare Women & Children Hospital.
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