What is Influenza?

Influenza or flu is a communicable, seasonal,respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Usually common among kids in winters, the symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of influenza can be confused with those of common cold, however the flu virus can make you feel far worse than common cold one. The onset of flu symptoms is usually sudden and includes

  • High fever with chills
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body aches
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea and vomiting (usually in kids and elderly).

Are there any complications?

Flu can cause complications in kids with chronic medical conditions, in infants and children below 5 years, pregnant women, kids/people with asthma and in elderly people with a weakened immune system.

Complications may include dehydration, bacterial infections like pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections;chronic illnesses may worsen especially if your child has asthma, heart problem or diabetes.Such infections may be life-threatening so it is advised that people should get vaccinated for flu once in a year.


Schools are potential places where children tend to catch contagious diseases, so are hospitals and day care centers.

  • The best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated with a flu shot. Not only all kids over 6 months of age but adults who take care of the child should take the flu shot each year.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is impossible to get infected by the vaccine. The vaccine is 60-90% effective in preventing the disease, however, there are a variety of flu causing virus strains and it is not possible to protect your child against them all with the flu shot. So,if your child does get infected, the symptoms are likely to be less severe.
  • Avoid close contact of your child with people who are infected, be it their friend, sibling, neighbor or your child’s caretaker, if any.
  • Kids may also get infected by touching contaminated surfaces in school and then rubbing it on their nose or mouth.
  • The infection spreads through air so your child may contract it if an infected person does not cover their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing.
  • The virus can spread from one person to another before and after the flu symptoms appear or subside.
  • If your child has good hygiene habits, is well nourished, exercises regularly and gets adequate amount of sleep, his immunity will be boosted and will be less likely to get infected.
  • Also kids that are breastfed and have a clean environment at home, regularly wash hands and bathe tend to have better immunity than those that are bottle-fed and have unhygienic habits.
  • Some children may have a weakened immune system because of medication or a medical condition that they suffer, it is important to take special care of such a child, and report to a doctor at the first signs of flu. Antivirals may help ease the symptoms of flu.


For mild cases, medical treatment may not be necessary. You can treat the symptoms of flu at home in the following ways:

  • The first and foremost is to take lots of rest and fluids.
  • To relieve fever and pain in young children (above 6 months), you may administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen, with the doctor’s advice about the dosage. Never give aspirin as it can lead to a rare disorder called Reye’s syndrome.
  • Keep your child hydrated: offer water, Pedialyte, clear soups or warm broths are also a good choice.
  • To relieve nasal congestion, a steam bath, topical vapor rub – menthol or eucalyptus, applied to the chest may offer some relief in children. Saline nose drops can reduce nasal inflammation in babies. A room cool-mist humidifier can help a child with labored breathing. A steaming cup of chicken soup can also do wonders.
  • To cure a sore throat, gargling with warm salt water may provide some relief. Half to full teaspoon of warm honey or warm tea with honey, or lemonade with honey can help the child to keep hydrated; honey is a natural decongestant. Also Vitamin C is beneficial for coughs and colds.
  • Talk to your pediatrician before administering any OTC cough and cold syrup to your child.
  • Antiviral drugs may also be prescribed during flu depending on the duration and severity of the symptoms and your medical history.

Monica Albert is a passionate blogger who loves to write on trending topics.

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