Flu season isn’t over yet! The period of high-infection risk usually starts in October and can last until May. There are many different kinds of flu, and just because your child has caught one doesn’t mean they won’t catch another. Read this helpful guide to learn more about the flu virus and how you can keep your child healthy this season.
What is the Flu and how does it spread?
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious virus that affects the air passages and lungs. It can spread quickly through contact with infected people, the air via coughs and sneezes, and just by touching a contaminated surface.
What are the types of flu?
The types of flu can be broken down into three different categories. They are similar but have small differences that set them apart. The three types are:
This type of flu is the most commonly contracted virus among humans. It is usually responsible for the outbreaks and epidemics you see during the flu season. Although Type A and Type B share identical symptoms and are thought to be the same, there are a few key differences. The reason behind Type A’s high infection rate is the fact that this virus constantly mutates. It has hundreds of different strains. It has also been known to infect both humans and animals, such as birds and pigs.
Type A strains are broken down into H and N subtypes. Currently, there are 16 H and 9 N known subtypes. The combinations behind most (if not all) of the human infections are H1N1, H2N2, and H3N2. The rest have mostly only been found in animals.
This type of flu is almost identical to Type A. Although Type B is less common, they share the same symptoms and neither type is worse than the other. The only major differences are that Type B is only found in humans and that, while it has many strains, it is not broken down into subtypes. A majority of flu vaccines contain at least 1 or 2 strains of Type B, depending on which strains experts think might be a problem.
The last type of flu is Type C. You can think of this type as a very watered-down version of Type A and B. All this virus does is cause mild respiratory sickness that may seem more like a cold than the flu. It may not even cause any symptoms at all. This type does not cause any kind of epidemic and shouldn’t cause any severe health problems.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
When your child contracts Type A or Type B flu, the symptoms are more or less the same. Infected children will feel the symptoms very suddenly, which can include:
- Aching muscles
- Sore throat
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Runny nose
- High Fever
- Nausea and Vomiting
It usually only takes about a week for a child to recover from influenza. However, fatigue and other symptoms may linger for a few more weeks. Be sure to know the difference between a cold and the flu, as it is easy to confuse these two illnesses. The flu can lead to more severe medical problems down the road, like pneumonia or even death. This is especially true for children who already have health issues like asthma or heart conditions. If you think your child has contracted the flu, take them to their doctor as soon as possible.
How can I protect my child?
There are a number of easy steps you can take to help prevent your child from catching the flu virus. The best method by far is to have them vaccinated annually. It is highly recommended that children over the age of 6 months get their vaccination before the start of the flu season. A common misconception is that the vaccine can give your child the flu. While the vaccine can give your child very mild versions of some symptoms, such as a dull headache, it will not cause an actual infection.
Children who catch the flu usually get it by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their eyes or mouth. To protect your child, keep them out of large crowds, and make sure they wash their hands often. Disinfect any surface they may come into contact with as well.
What can I do to help my child if they get the flu?
So what do you do if your child has contracted the flu? While there is no direct cure, there are a few things you can do to help ease their symptoms. Along with what your doctor suggests, you can take the following steps.
- Keep them home: This is pretty much a given, but keep your child home until they are recovered and no longer contagious. Make sure they’re comfortable and that they get lots of rest.
- Have them drink a lot of water: It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re sick and this is especially true for children. Make sure your child drinks lots of water, fruit juice, or broth-based soups. Avoid carbonated drinks, as these can irritate sore throats.
- Use a humidifier: Having a humidifier will help open your child’s airways. Steam can help soothe irritated nasal passages too and get rid of the mucus that makes it hard to breathe.
- Help get rid of the pain: The flu is hard on the human body. Ask your child’s doctor if they can have acetaminophen or other pain medications to soothe achy muscles.
Does your child need a flu vaccination?
Do you still have questions about the flu virus and how it may affect your child? Dr. Young and his friendly staff will do everything they can to keep your child happy and healthy. Call us at (806) 354-0404 ext. 3330 or Send Us an Email to learn more about what we can do for you. You can also visit us in person at 1500 S. Coulter St., Suite #3 in Amarillo, Texas.