The flu is a very contagious and common viral infection that affects the respiratory tract. Most children are sick with the flu for less than ten days, but some kids develop a more serious flu illness and may need medical attention for proper treatment. There is no actual cure for the flu, however, there are various forms of medication that help ease the symptoms and side effects. In addition, the annual flu vaccine is a great way to protect yourself and your child from potentially contracting the flu.
What causes the flu in children?
Flu causing viruses are divided into 3 types:
- Influenza type A and B: These 2 types of viruses are more common and cause widespread illness usually during the winter season. These types are known to mature and evolve regularly, creating more subtypes of the virus.
- Influenza type C: This type of virus causes a respiratory illness with either very mild symptoms or none at all. It does not spread as widely as types A and B, and it does not have the severe public health impact that types A and B do. The flu vaccine does not protect against influenza Type C viruses, according to the CDC.
How does the flu spread?
The viruses that cause the flu are found in the nose, lungs, and throat. The flu can spread very quickly between children. It can spread through:
- Direct or indirect physical contact: Encountering the virus via respiratory droplets on other persons or objects and subsequently passing those infected droplets to his/her eyes, mouth or nose.
- Airborne transmission: Many viruses can spread through the air in respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. Those viruses can travel through the air to reach another child’s eyes, mouth or nose.
What are flu symptoms in kids?
Even though the flu is a respiratory disease, it can affect the entire body. A child can one or more of the symptoms at various stages:
- Body aches and chills
- Sore throat
- Runny and stuffy nose
In some cases, more severe symptoms may develop such as:
Children usually start to recover from the flu in 10 days, however, they might still feel fatigued for as long as 4 weeks.
When to seek medical help?
Generally, if you are concerned about your child’s health, you should talk to a doctor. While cases of the flu tend to clear up on their own with adequate rest and care, if you have any concerns make sure to see a doctor. You can seek medical help by booking an in-clinic appointment or an online doctor’s appointment with a provider like Tia Health. If symptoms are severe, visit your nearest hospital emergency room.