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Getting the flu is a common ailment that affects babies of all ages. Though it is not something to stress over, it must also not be ignored. The care of a sick child will vary depending on their age and the extent of illness. Since the flu appears suddenly and can last for a few days, it helps to recognise the symptoms and know how to deal with them. Here is all you need to know about flu in babies.
What is Flu?
Influenza or flu is a viral infection afflicting the nose, throat, and lungs, and can make babies quite sick. There are different types of influenza viruses. Every year, there are some which are more prevalent than others. Babies are vulnerable to the flu, and it is important to monitor your baby’s condition closely till he or she recovers fully.
How Common is the Flu in Infants?
It is very common for babies and young children to contract the flu. But it can be scary because they are at a higher risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, bacterial infection, and sepsis. Children under the age of five, and especially those aged two or less, are more prone to such complications and may have to be hospitalised.
Causes of Flu in Infants
Influenza viruses lead to the flu. There are three main types – Types A and B which lead to the annual outbreaks and Type C which can result in mild, random cases. These viruses are spread through coughing and sneezing by infected people. Your baby might breathe in these infected droplets through the nose or mouth and develop the flu over the next four days. Schools, daycare centres, playgroups, and crowded places are where the flu spreads the quickest.
Flu Symptoms in Babies
The first two to three days of the flu are the worst. Your baby may display one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
1. Typical Symptoms:
- Feeling feverish
- Chills and shaking
- A high grade fever with temperatures that touch 104°F
- Fatigue or feeling extremely tired
- Headache and/or muscle aches, body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Dry cough that doesn’t go away
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
2. Serious Symptoms:
If your baby is under 12 months and shows any of the following symptoms, it is best to consult with your doctor immediately:
- A fever of 104°F or higher in a baby of under three months
- Fever for over 24 hours
- A cough that does not get better even after a week
- The fever rises above 104°F repeatedly
- Breathing problems
- Bluish skin colour
Is There Any Test for the Baby Flu?
Assessing the symptoms and the clinical judgment of a doctor is the preferred method of diagnosing the flu. There are a number of flu tests available, but these are usually used to test for specific types of flu.
Treatment of your child will be suggested by the doctor and can involve flu medicine for infants as well as sufficient rest and hydration. The medications can take up to 72 hours to work. Babies who are aged two or under may have to be hospitalized.
Flu Vaccine for Babies
Babies over six months of age can be vaccinated every year at the start of flu season. While administering the influenza vaccine for babies, it is important that parents and all caregivers of the child also get vaccinated.
How Long Does the Recovery Take?
Flu symptoms can last for a week but in some instances, it can take up to two weeks for a full recovery.
Getting your baby vaccinated and practising good hygiene are ways in which you can keep the flu at bay. Ensure your baby’s hands are washed with soap and water regularly. Try to keep your baby away from people who are sick and make sure to sanitise toys and household surfaces regularly.
How Can You Make Your Baby Comfortable?
Ensuring that your child is comfortable when sick should be your priority.
- Adequate rest is essential, so let your baby sleep whenever he or she wants to nap. Avoid too much excitement and ensure quiet activities.
- Give your baby a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration. Soups, broths, juices, and applesauce are just some of the things to offer your baby.
- You can administer pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to your child to lessen the fever after consulting with your doctor.
By being prepared with information about the flu and how it affects babies, you can nurture your baby back to health with ease. Learning to spot flu symptoms, giving your child the appropriate treatment, and taking preventive measures to keep flu at bay can go a long way in ensuring your peace of mind.
Each baby is different as far as development goes and this information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.