When adults get hit with the flu
, there’s no mistaking it. You’re feverish, you have a dry cough
, and a runny nose
, your head feels stuffed up, and you ache everywhere.
But with kids, the signs aren’t always as easy to detect, as little ones cannot always describe their symptoms or tell you how they are feeling.
That’s why we’ve referred to credible sources such as the World Health Organization
, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, and the National Health Service
to help us compile a quick and easy guide to spotting a child’s flu symptoms, based on their ages.
Children 6 Months to 2 Years
When kids younger than 2 years old have the flu
, they often experience respiratory symptoms (dry cough
, runny nose
, and sneezing), high fever (sometimes as high as 40°C), diarrhoea, and vomiting.
Recognising the early signs in toddlers is especially important, because they can get dangerously dehydrated very quickly. In addition, because of their smaller airways, babies can quickly progress to having wheezing and laboured breath, which requires medication. Signs that a child’s breathing is compromised include wheezing, fast breathing or shortness of breath, and nose flaring. Call your doctor if your child’s flu symptoms
persist or seek emergency care immediately if your toddler shows signs of laboured breathing.
If your infant has a fever, watch out for other signs of illness, such as dehydration – because babies this age usually don’t want to drink when they don’t feel well. Provide plenty of water to keep an infant hydrated. You can check with a medical professional such as a pharmacist or family doctor if you are unsure on how to treat your child, especially if their symptoms persist’.
Children 2 to 4 Years
A child who can’t talk yet (or can’t talk well) obviously can’t tell you that his body aches all over, so you need to be alert for behavioural changes. For instance, in many cases, children with the flu
will have shaking chills and refuse to walk, because their legs are very achy.
Make sure you keep a close eye on them, watch them to see how they’re acting, and respond to anything that seems out of the ordinary. Young kids often have a limp look to them, or they are so uncomfortable that they just want to be held.
Children 4 to 6 Years
Once kids are at an age where they can tell you how they feel, listen for complaints that may be similar to an adult’s. However, if your child is younger than 6, be aware that some over-the-counter medicines are not suitable, and you should speak to a pharmacist for advice if you are unsure.
But there are other things you can do. You can consider giving your child a children’s painkiller for fever or pain reduction, and you can try applying a topical medicine such as Vicks® VapoRub™ which is clinically proven to help relieve three common cold & flu symptoms including blocked nose, sore throat and cough due to colds.
Other beneficial non-drug treatments for flu
include a cool mist humidifier. Just be sure to use one that has a humidity gauge and to keep the level at no higher than around 50% to avoid a mould problem.
Children Older Than 6 Years
For children older than 6, flu
symptoms are essentially the same as adults’ symptoms. At this point, most children’s remedies can be considered, although it’s still best to check with your pharmacist if your child is taking other medications.
In addition, ‘some products are not suitable for kids with asthma or respiratory problems. Always check with your pharmacist or doctor for further advice or if symptoms persist.[REFERENCES]
1. The World Health Organization, (November 2012). WHO position paper: Vaccines Against Influenza. 87(47), pp. 461-467.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clinical Signs and Symptoms of Influenza. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/clinical.html. Accessed - May 2016
3. NHS, Common cold – Children. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cold-common/Pages /Commoncoldinchildren.aspx. Accessed – April 2016