Flu Symptoms in Babies and Children

January 6, 2022

Flu (influenza) is a viral infection that is very infectious and affects the airways of the lungs. It is one of the most common and severe viral diseases during the winter season and results in body aches, high fever, cough, and other symptoms. In most children, the flu only lasts for less than a week. However, it can be more serious in some children and may need to be hospitalized. The flu may also become advanced and result in pneumonia (lung infection) or death.

AFC Urgent Care Paramus can treat all patients beginning at one year of age. It’s important to receive prompt care to relieve any symptoms. Our providers are here to recommend the best treatment and provide high-quality medical care.

Causes of Flu in Children

Flu viruses cause flu and can be divided into three types;

  1. Influenza types A and B: These two types of viruses cause epidemics almost every winter season. Often, they result in more people getting hospitalized and more deaths caused by flu. The focus of public health officials is to stop the spread of influenza types A and B. The flu remains a significant problem because the flu viruses mutate often, meaning there is a new virus annually. 
  2. Influenza C: This type of virus doesn’t cause an epidemic and may only result in a very mild respiratory illness or even no symptoms at all. Influenza C does not possess the severe public health impact types A and B do.

A flu virus spreads through coughing or sneezing and can live on surfaces (like toys, keyboards, doorknobs, countertops, pens or pencils, phones, and tablets) for a short time. It can also be transferred through shared drinking and eating utensils.

Your child can get infected with the flu virus by touching anything formerly touched by an infected person and then touching their nose, mouth, or eyes.

The flu is most contagious 24 hours before symptoms start and then continues even when symptoms become most active. The risk of spreading the illness to others usually stops around day 7.

Symptoms of Flu in Children

Though the flu is a respiratory disease, it can end up being debilitating. A child can suddenly become sick with any or all of the below symptoms;

  1. Headache
  2. Cough that gets worse
  3. Fever that may be as high as 103oF to 105oF
  4.  Sore throat
  5. Runny or stuffy nose
  6. Body aches, which may become severe
  7. Tiredness

Your child may also, in some cases, experience symptoms like;

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting

Most children may recover from the flu in about a week. However, they may still experience fatigue for as long as 3 to 4 weeks.

Cold vs. Flu Symptoms

It is essential to note that the flu and a cold have varying symptoms:

Flu Symptoms

Cold Symptoms

Sneezing in some cases

Sneezing

Headache in most cases

Headache in some cases

Severe body pain

Mild body pain

High fever

Low or no fever

Clear nose, or stuffy nose in some cases

Stuffy, runny nose

Sore throat in some cases

Sore throat

Cough, often turning severe

Mild, hacking cough

Extreme fatigue can last weeks

Mild fatigue

The flu can result in severe symptoms and cause problems like pneumonia and even death. However, a cold is a mild illness that often disappears after a few days.

Treatment of Flu in Children:

Treatment aims to help ease or prevent symptoms; however, it will depend on your child’s age, symptoms, general health, and how severe the condition is.

Treatment may include medications like:

  1. Cough medicine
  2. Antiviral medicine – this medication does not cure the flu but helps lessen the symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. It must be started within two days after symptoms start.
  3. Acetaminophen – this will help reduce fever and body pains. Do not prescribe aspirin to a child with fever.

Antibiotics are not prescribed because they are not effective against viral infections. Instead, the treatment is focused on relieving your child’s symptoms until the illness goes away. Also, ensure your child is hydrated often and gets plenty of bed rest.

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