Influenza: Symptoms and Care
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It can cause severe symptoms, including fever, body aches, fatigue, and coughing. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine. However, even if you get vaccinated, you may still be at risk for developing the disease if exposed to the virus. Therefore, if you think you have the flu, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible so that you can receive treatment and avoid complications.
Parenting is hard enough without worrying about our children getting sick. However, as soon as one child in the family gets sick with influenza, it’s only a matter of time before the others come down with it too. It’s important to be on the lookout for symptoms. If the symptoms are alarming, make sure to consult your local pediatrician. Some of the symptoms that may require serious attention are as follows:
- Severe trouble breathing (struggling for each breath, can barely speak or cry)
- Lips or face are bluish when not coughing
- You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
- Ribs are pulling in with each breath (called retractions)
- Not alert when awake (“out of it”)
- Trouble breathing, but not severe
- Breathing is much faster than normal
- Lips or face have turned bluish during coughing
- Wheezing (high-pitched purring or whistling sound when breathing out)
- Stridor (harsh sound with breathing in) is heard now
- Chest pain and can’t take a deep breath
- Dehydration suspected. No urine in more than 8 hours, dark urine, parched mouth, and no tears.
- Weak immune system. Examples are sickle cell disease, HIV, cancer, organ transplant, and taking oral steroids.
- Severe High-Risk child (see that list in Causes). This includes lung disease, heart disease, and being bedridden.
- Fever over 104° F (40° C)
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Milder symptoms of influenza include:
- Nonstop coughing spells
- Earache or ear drainage
- Sinus pain (not just congestion)
- Age more than six months and needs a flu shot
- Coughing causes vomiting three or more times
- Coughing has kept the child home from school for three or more days
- Nasal discharge lasts more than two weeks
Taking care of a child with influenza can be difficult, but there are some steps you can take to make it easier. First, keep them hydrated by giving them plenty of fluids to drink. It would be best if you also tried to keep them comfortable and rested by letting them sleep as much as possible. Finally, watch for any worsening symptoms and contact your doctor if you have any concerns. Following these tips can help your child get through the illness and start feeling better soon.
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes
only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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