Battling the Effects of Flu Season
During the winter season, most households with children experience at least a few bouts of the cold and flu. While getting sick is no fun, knowing the early signs and symptoms can help you and your children get better faster. So, what are some common flu symptoms in kids? And what should you watch out for? Let’s take a look.
Common Flu Symptoms
The flu, also known as influenza, is a contagious viral respiratory infection. While the flu may be severe, most children recover within a week.
Generally, this virus gets passed on from person to person via sneezing or coughing, as well as via surfaces like doorknobs and toys. With daycare or school, your child will inevitably get sick at one point or another. However, knowing the right signs and how to treat the flu properly can go a long way in reducing its severity or spread throughout your home.
It’s also important to note that the flu is most contagious 24 hours before the onset of symptoms and when symptoms are the most severe. If your child shows any of the following signs, ensure you keep them at home so they can’t spread the virus to other kids.
So, what flu symptoms in kids should you be on the lookout for?
1. Stuffy Nose
A stuffy or runny nose arises as the body tries to clear the virus as quickly as possible. Your child may experience a sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose. These are tell-tale signs that they might be experiencing the common flu.
Headaches are another common flu symptom. It’s important to ensure your child stays properly hydrated, as doing so can prevent headaches. Hydration is also key if your child experiences a fever.
Whether or not someone experiences a fever with the flu varies. However, a fever of around 103°F (39.4°C) can be quite common. It’s also something you want to keep an eye on. If their fever exceeds these numbers or lasts longer than two days, consider taking your child to the ER.
4. Body Aches
Body and muscle aches are another common flu symptom, which may leave your child feeling very drained. Usually, the tell-tale sign that your child is sick is that they aren’t behaving as they normally would or aren’t enjoying activities they usually do. At the same time, this may depend on your child’s age.
5. Less Common Symptoms
In some cases, the flu also causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Be sure to place a bucket or garbage can by their bedside to reduce messes. Furthermore, if this occurs, make sure your child stays properly hydrated. Dehydration can make illness much worse than it needs to be. You may also want to try the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) diet with your child until their stomach has settled.
At the end of the day, flu treatment depends on the severity of your child’s symptoms and what type of symptoms they may experience. Sometimes, all that is needed is rest, sleep, proper hydration, and food for mild to moderate cases.
To alleviate some symptoms, you may want to try acetaminophen. This can help in cases where the body or muscle aches and fever are present.
For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend antiviral medication. However, this is often only recommended when the illness persists for many weeks and is generally not the first line of defense.
As we stated before, the most important part of treating the flu is rest and proper hydration! Encourage your child to take it easy by putting on their favorite show or purchasing a new book for them to read. If they run a fever, consider a cool cloth for their forehead. Ensure they have plenty of water and electrolytes, especially if they have digestive symptoms.
Lastly, avoid giving your child sugary food or drinks, hard-to-digest grains, and greasy or fast foods. These can create more problems instead of helping the situation. Instead, opt for easy-to-digest options, such as the BRAT diet listed above, bone broth, chicken soup, yogurt, vitamin-C-rich fruits (oranges, strawberries, etc.), and oatmeal.
Flu symptoms in kids can be very stressful for parents. However, staying calm and supporting your child in the best way possible is important. And don’t forget to wash your hands regularly (and especially before handling food for the rest of the family) to limit and minimize the spread of the virus.