Everybody knows that influenza outbreaks happen every year starting sometime around the end of October and ending sometime in April. But did you know that it is not the same virus that causes these influenza symptoms every year? The virus that causes an outbreak one year is different from the virus that causes the next year’s outbreak. This is one of the reasons why the CDC advises people of all ages to get a flu shot every year to protect themselves before the flu season starts.
Some of the most common symptoms of the flu include:
• Cold & sniffles
• Sore throat
• Dry cough
• Chills and shakes
• Loss of appetite
• Extreme fatigue
While flu symptoms in children and adults are similar there are a few differences.
In newborn babies, an unexplained high fever with no other signs of sickness may be an indication of influenza. Immediate treatment is crucial to prevent any other complications from arising.
In toddlers and smaller children, signs of a flu infection often includes temperatures over 39.5°C accompanied by convulsions, stomach pain, diarrhea or vomiting. Some children experience severe back or leg pain because of inflamed muscles.
Complications Related To The Flu
In most cases, parents simply treat their children for a cold and do not bother to consult with a pediatrician. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can become more severe and can result in other complications. Every year thousands of people of all ages are hospitalized because of the flu related complications. Smaller children are particularly susceptible.
In smaller children, flu that is not treated in time can lead to croup, barking cough, hoarseness and noisy breathing. As the condition becomes more severe it can even lead to lung infection or pneumonia. A child’s tiny airways can also get infected making it difficult for them to breathe and causing wheezing.
When To Take Your Child To The Doctor
Influenza can worsen very quickly and it is important to take your child to the doctor right in the initial stages itself. A visit to the emergency room is warranted if your child:
• Is finding it difficult to breathe and gasps for air
• Is coughing so violently that she is choking
• Complaints of severe chest pain
• Seems to be sleepy all the time and is too tired to go out and play
• Is drinking very little fluid
As with most ailments, prevention is better than cure and the best way to prevent the flu is to give your child a flu shot every year before the flu season starts, which is sometime in November.