Is it teething time for your little one?
The flu (influenza) is a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory system. It is most common in winter and should not be confused with the common cold.
 
Deciding whether your child has a common cold or the flu is difficult because flu symptoms are so similar to cold symptoms. However, if your child is sick in flu season and she shows the typical symptoms, she more than likely has the flu. Symptoms include a sudden fever that is typically 38.3 degrees Celsius (101 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. These initial symptoms will be followed by respiratory distress like a dry cough and a runny nose.
 
So the symptoms to watch out for include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
 
The fever is the key to knowing if it is a cold or the flu. In cases of a cold, head or chest congestion and a cough will most likely be present before a fever hits. With the flu, the fever is usually the first indication and comes on suddenly. Your child will also lose her appetite, have a sore throat, and possibly have swollen glands. Abdominal pain can sometimes be present with the flu, as well as diarrhoea and vomiting.

The flu virus is transmitted through the air and is fairly easy to contract. Schools, crèches and anywhere that children gather are a playground for the flu virus. The best thing to do for your child when she has the flu is to make sure that she get lots of rest and drinks plenty of fluids. Most times, she won’t want to eat much, but you can offer frozen fruit pops and soups and broths to make sure that they get the fluids she needs. You can also give your children’s pain relievers to help with the fever and body aches.

Antibiotics will not do much to help with the flu because the cause is viral and not bacterial. However, this does not mean that you should not consult your doctor. There are situations that warrant a trip to the doctor:
  • If your child has a fever of 39.4 degrees Celsius or higher;
  • If your child’s cough does not seem to improve after one week;
  • If your child has underlying health issues and comes down with the flu;
  • If there is an earache along with the flu;
  • If there is wheezing or difficulty breathing;
  • If your child shows signs of dehydration;
  • If your child seems to get well, then quickly gets sick again.
 
How to keep your child safe from flu?  
 
Prevention is always better than a cure so try implementing some of the following.
  • Basic hygiene will go a long way to protecting your child from getting the flu. You need to teach her to:
  • Wash her hands often using soap and take at least 15 seconds to wash his hands thoroughly. If your child is coughing or sneezing, it is particularly important that she regularly wash her hands.
  • Cough hygienically - teach your child to cover her mouth when she coughs, preferably into the crook of her arm
  • Keep his hands away from his mouth, eyes and nose - curious little fingers will pick up germs and one of the main ways to getting sick is by transmitting germs to the body via the mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Teaching your child to blow her own nose will take many years of instruction and reminders but it will pay off. Always bin the tissue after use and never be tempted to teach your child to keep it up their sleeve.
  • Sneeze discretely - the spray that comes with a big sneeze can go far and wide. Teach your child to use a tissue and to bin it immediately – alternatively as sneezes tend to creep up and sneezes are into her hands, teach your child to wash their hand immediately after one.
 

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