|Brianna, © 2016 aspicyboycatandmyfatass.com|
Last week I had the flu, then my mother, and now my daughter. I feel terrible seeing her suffer with the flu for the first time, but I guess we've been lucky so far with her not getting sick much. So, what causes the flu? The culprit is the wonderful influenza visus, and there's plenty of strains circulating out there. You or your child can catch the flu by coming into contact with an infected person, especially if that person coughs or sneezes around her, or by touching something that an infected person has touched. If your little one comes down with the flu, the symptoms usually last about a week, but sometimes it can linger for up to two weeks. Don't confuse influenza with the stomach flu (aka gastroenteritis). That’s caused by a variety of viruses (but not the influenza virus) and leads to diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes with fever.
Common Symptoms of the flu
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches and pains
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea occasionally
How to make life easier
Keeping your little one comfortable should be the top priority. Be sure to...
Rest. Help your little one get plenty of rest by letting her nap when she’s sleepy and encouraging lots of quiet activities during the day.
Fluids. Offer lots of fluids to prevent dehydration (from fever and loss of appetite). You can continue to nurse and bottle-feed your baby; if she’s eating solids, try giving her a bit of applesauce or broth. You can give your toddler Popsicles too, along with soup or broth.
Pain relievers. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce the fever (but don’t give ibuprofen to babies younger than six months old). Since the flu often makes sufferers alternately hot and then chilled, you might want to dress your child in layers that you can remove — or add — when needed.
When to call the doctor
Whenever you suspect that your child has the flu, call your doctor right away. Also, when it comes to kids and the flu, call your doctor if you notice the following troubling symptoms:
- If your baby is less than three months old and has a temperature of 100.4° or higher, call the doctor immediately. The flu can lead to serious complications, especially in young babies since they haven’t had a chance to build up a strong immune system yet.
- If your baby is between three months and three years, call your doctor if her temperature reaches 101.5° or higher (again, you’ll want your child to be checked for a serious illness).
- Extreme irritability (e.g., your child doesn’t even want to be held) Not drinking enough fluids
- Fever with any type of rash
- Symptoms improve but then return worse than before (this could be a sign of pneumonia or another serious infection) Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Seems confused, is not interacting or waking up, or has seizures
Preventing the flu
Doctors recommend the flu vaccine for all children ages six months to 18 years old as the best defense from catching the virus. If your child has a chronic health condition like asthma or diabetes, it’s especially important for her to get vaccinated because the flu is more likely to lead to complications in those with other health issues. Since babies younger than six months are not old enough to get the flu vaccine, experts recommend that all other family members, including your baby’s caregiver, get vaccinated.
Other ways to prevent the flu
Wash your baby’s hands regularly (and teach your toddler hand-washing basics). Steer clear of other sick kids and parents (and their tissues!) to avoid illness.