What should you do when your kids have flu?

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Children are especially susceptible to contracting the flu.
Children are especially susceptible to contracting the flu.

Flu season has begun, and although we are more careful than ever before regarding staying germ-free, the chances of catching a cold or getting the flu are still high.

Children are especially susceptible to contracting the flu as they are not as conscious as adults of staying germ-free.

As we have come to learn via Covid-19 safety protocol, touching surfaces and then touching the face is the fastest way of picking up germs.

Surfaces such as doorknobs, pencils and pens, their desks at school or even a soccer ball on the playground can carry the flu virus should they be touched by a sick child, which can then be easily passed on to another child continuing the cycle.

Also read: Delta Covid-19 variant in children: Case numbers rising in SA - what experts say

'Children may still attend school without knowing that they are sick' 

Once sick with the flu, children and adults are most contagious 24 hours before their symptoms start; therefore, the virus can be spread quickly.

Flu symptoms in children usually only occur two days after being exposed to the virus and can last five to seven days and even longer. 

"During flu season, children may still attend school without knowing that they are sick, and this is how the virus can be spread from one child to another. Teaching our children proper hygiene can help stop the spread; however, children tend to get distracted when they are with their friends," explains Tibb Health Sciences' Carla Yssel.  

"Teaching our children how to stay healthy is very important, but we also need to help them identify their symptoms before they spread, which must be followed by parents being able to manage the symptoms so that their child doesn't get sicker."

Symptoms of the flu can vary slightly, but Yssel suggests the following list to help identify them:

  • High fever
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Runny or a stuffy nose in some cases
  • Coughing that may become worse
  • Extreme tiredness that can last up to a couple of weeks
  • A sore throat

Children may also experience symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Should your child be experiencing any of these symptoms during the current pandemic, it will set your mind at ease to take your child to the doctor to confirm that it is the flu and nothing else.

TLC with a strategy

Once the doctor has confirmed that your child has the flu, knowing how to treat these symptoms can bring about relief for your child.

Knowing how to look after your child while they have the flu is necessary to keep them comfortable.

Yssel provides the following tips on how to manage your child's symptoms:

1. Resting gives your child's body to chance to fight the infection. Although children may not want to lie in bed all day, simply lying on the couch and not being active will help as well.

2. When a child is sick, they need to stay hydrated. The fluid helps to thin out their mucus build-up and eases their sore throats. When they have decided that they no longer want to be sipping on "boring" water, warm soups and warm drinks such as tea and hot chocolate will help keep up their fluid intake.

3. Keeping the air moist helps ease a dry, sore throat, thin out the mucus, and improve breathing. This can be done with a humidifier which should be placed in your child's room. 

4. A fever is a sign that your child's body is fighting an infection. Luke-warm baths, light clothes, a light blanket and a cold cloth on their foreheads can help manage their temperatures.

"Children, depending on their age, don't always understand what they are feeling or why they are feeling the way they do when they are sick. It is up to us as parents to manage their symptoms and make them feel comfortable while they are feeling under the weather," concludes Yssel.

Submitted to Parent24 by Tibb Health Sciences. 

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