Influenza in Children: Treat It Before It Threatens

 Influenza or flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Influenza outbreaks are quite common and they mostly occur in the winter seasons – between November and April – every year. The influenza virus strain mutates and changes from year to year, which is why most people doesn’t stay immune from them for long. This is also the reason why influenza is often termed as seasonal flu. Influenza viruses are mostly found in the nose and throat. Children catch influenza from others including siblings, classmates, family members and caregivers. The virus spreads in three ways: 
  • Direct contact: This includes kissing, touching and holding hands of an infected person.
  • Indirect contact: This includes touching things that have been touched by an infected person, who unknowingly left the germs on it. This can be anything from toys to a doorknob.
  • Through Air: Some of the germs spread through the air when infected person coughs or sneezes and an unaffected person inhales it.
 Symptoms of Influenza in childrenChildren are often quickly affected by influenza. They suffer from symptoms like sudden fever, chills, headaches and body pain, extreme fatigue, dry cough and sore throat and a loss of appetite. Although most adults affected by influenza also suffer from similar symptoms, the intensity of the symptoms varies in children. For instance, newborns and babies affected by the virus will have unexplained fevers with no other symptoms.  Young children usually have a temperature of 37°C. When the temperature increases, some children show signs of febrile seizures. Stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhea are also seen in children affected by influenza. When To See The DoctorChildren should be taken to see a childcare specialist at the paediatric clinic in Sharjah on showing unexplained bouts of fever.  Younger children must also be taken to the paediatric clinic to consult a child specialist if he or she is suffering from- 
  • Rapid or difficult breathing
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Chocking and vomiting
  • Not drinking enough water and not urinating for more than 6 hours of waking hours
  • Tired and sleepy
  • Having a fever which is not cured even after 5 days
  • Sudden fever after feeling better for a while
 Your child’s paediatrician can help suggest the best treatment for your child to cure him/ her at the earliest. Our in-house paediatrician will prescribe a flu shot and antibiotics to ease the condition. To ease body aches and fever use acetaminophen for your child below the age of 6. For older children, Ibuprofen can be used.  Caring For Your Sick ChildIf your child is suffering from influenza, it is important to keep him or her as comfortable as possible. Make your child drink plenty of fluids and small nutritional meals. Dress your child in light clothes. GIve your child prescribed medications at the right dosage. Never give over the counter medication to your child. You will mostly get all necessary medicines from the paediatric clinic in Sharjah where you take your child for consultation. Help them gargle with warm water to ease a sore throat. Lozenges containing herbs, pectin or honey can be used for easing throat itching in older children. Preventive MethodsInfluenza in children can be prevented through immunization available at your nearest paediatric clinic in Sharjah. All children over the age of 6 months should be given the flu shot every year prior to the flu season. If any of the adults in the family is suffering from flu, keep the children, especially babies below the age of 6 months away from them if possible. Some of the easy preventive methods you can follow at home are- 
  • Wash hands after sneezing or coughing or wiping nose
  • Wash hands after coming in contact with someone with the respiratory infection
  • Use hand sanitizers in case water and soap are unavailable
  • Avoid sharing toys, cups or towels without being washed
Consult a child care specialist in your nearest paediatric clinic in Sharjah at the earliest if your child shows flu symptoms.
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