Treating Children with Influenza
Dealing with the dreaded flu season – November to April – can be one of the most trying times for most parents. While influenza affects all ages and sexes of people, children are more susceptible and need treatment. In most cases the flu disappears after a week but during that week, it is imperative that it is treated effectively. Untreated influenza can easily degenerate into more serious illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis. Being pediatricians, treating young children with influenza is one of our more common activities at Village Pediatrics. We are well equipped and skilled to help with all kinds of similar ailments so that your child emerges healthier and stronger than before.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a condition that results from a viral infection usually affecting the respiratory tract. It is extremely contagious and gets easily passed on between children and adults. It is often confused with the common cold as the symptoms are similar however with influenza, the symptoms are more pronounced and is almost always associated with a fever.
Causes of Influenza
Since influenza is a viral infection it is usually caused by contracting it from other people suffering from the same condition. It is an extremely contagious disease and whenever the ill person sneezes or coughs, droplets containing the virus are sent out into the air infecting others. A child may have contracted the illness, but since symptoms only appear after a day or two, he or she might infect a number of others before being confined at home.
The months of November to April, being a time when the weather is colder and wetter than usual, becomes a breeding ground for the influenza virus. Children should be kept warm and covered at all times to protect against the illness.
Symptoms of Influenza
Influenza usually begins with coughing, sneezing, runny noses and sore throats. After a couple of days, a fever begins at time accompanied by muscle aches and pains, headaches, chills, nausea, diarrhea, weakness and earaches. Infants of course in most cases cannot express most of these symptoms articulately so they just become cranky and irritable. The fever tends to shoot up particularly high for small babies making it imperative to control the temperature effectively.
The fever usually runs its course for about a week while the cough and cold may extend for a longer period. For children, this could be elongated but the key is to adopt an appropriate treatment plan
Since influenza is a viral infection there is very little that can be administered to attack the infection. Treatment plans therefore include controlling the fever and prescribing medication to treat the cough and cold. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, but this is only effective if administered within 2 days of contracting the illness. Some doctors may also suggest a flu vaccine during the flu season or at other times of the year. The flu vaccine is generally reccommended for any child over the age of 6 months. Children under the age of 6 months are typically covered from antibodies they received from their mother during pregnancy. Mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to pass this immunity to their babies. Breastfeeding will also help protect the very young when they cannot get the vaccine.
Dealing with influenza will probably be the most common condition you will have to manage as a parent of a young child. Thankfully with our help, you will have all the support you need to get through it.