Flu is caused by a virus. There are many different types of flu viruses. The most common are types A and B. Influenza viruses are constantly changing. This is why you can get flu many times. Flu is most common in winter. Children with a weakened immune system are especially susceptible to this type of infection. Parents often ask themselves what are the typical symptoms of influenza in children, what is its course in children, younger and older, and how to treat it.
3 types of flu
Flu is caused by viruses that fall into 3 types:
- Influenza A and B. These 2 types of viruses cause widespread disease (epidemics) almost every winter. They often lead to more people having to go to the hospital and more people dying of the flu. Public health departments are focused on stopping the spread of types A and B. One reason influenza remains a problem is that viruses change (mutate) frequently. This means that people, especially children, are exposed to new types of viruses each year.
- Influenza C. This type of virus causes very mild or no symptoms of respiratory disease. It does not cause an epidemic. There is no serious public health impact from influenza A and B.
There is no rule about which type of virus is more common in adults and which type of virus is more common in children. The flu virus is often passed from baby to baby through sneezing or coughing. It can also live for short periods on a variety of surfaces such as door handles, toys, pens or pencils, keyboards, telephones and tablets, and countertops.
It can also be passed on by sharing kitchen utensils and drinking from the same cup, which is quite common with children. A toddler can catch the flu virus by touching something that has been touched by an infected person and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. People infect most 24 hours before symptoms start. The risk of infecting others usually disappears around the 7th day of illness.
Your child is more likely to get the flu if they are around people who are infected, have not been vaccinated against flu, and do not wash their hands after touching infected surfaces. Younger children and those with some underlying medical conditions are at greater risk of hospitalization or have a severe, complicated course of the disease. A similar risk exists with influenza in pregnant women.
Flu symptoms in children
Flu is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the airways of the lungs. It causes high fever, body aches, cough, and other symptoms. It is one of the most serious and common viral diseases of the winter season. Most children have flu for less than a week. But in some of them the course may be much more severe, requiring hospitalization. Some children have a more serious illness and may need treatment in the hospital. If the first flu symptoms are ignored, they can lead to lung infection (pneumonia) or even death. Flu is a respiratory disease, but it can affect your entire body. The characteristic symptoms for this disease are:
- Fever that can reach 39.4 ° C to 40.5 ° C
- Pain throughout the body which can be very distressing
- Sore throat
- A worsening cough
- Runny or stuffy nose
In some cases, the child may also have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Observations of pediatricians show that flu in children most often manifests itself in the form of an acute infection of the upper respiratory tract. Less common symptoms include runny nose, chest pain, eye pain, and sensitivity to light.
How flu is in children
The course of flu in children can vary. Some children develop an asymptomatic infection, while other toddlers may develop a complicated infection. It depends largely on the age of the child. Babies under six months of age usually only have a cough and a fever. Sometimes the latter syndrome of the disease does not occur at all, and apnea is the only symptom of the disease in this age group. Diagnosis of influenza in children is largely based on clinical symptoms. In case of doubt, the doctor may order a sample from the nose, throat or nasopharynx for detailed analysis for the presence of the virus.
How long does flu last in children?
Most babies recover within a week. But they can still complain of fatigue for 3 to 4 weeks, which is normal. In more severe cases, the symptoms of the disease only disappear after about two weeks.
How to cure flu in children?
Choosing the right treatment depends largely on the symptoms, age and overall health of the child. It will also depend on how severe the infection is. The main goal of treatment is to prevent or relieve symptoms.
The use of common antiviral medications can help alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of the disease. Administration of oseltamivir or zanamivir is considered in children suspected of having severe complications from influenza. It should be borne in mind that these types of substances do not fight the symptoms of the disease, but only the cause of the disease, i.e. the virus. Merely using an antiviral substance is not sufficient. Correct antiviral medication should be administered within 2 days of onset of symptoms. They stop the virus from reproducing so it cannot spread. This can shorten the course of the disease by 1-2 days. It doesn’t make much sense to start treatment at a later date.