Childhood illnesses

The flu in children and its most common ways of contagion


It is estimated that about 20% of the population will get the flu each season, especially children, but What are the most common ways of spreading the flu in children?The flu is a highly contagious, infectious respiratory disease caused by the flu virus (called influenza virus). There are several types of this virus, although type A and B are responsible for causing seasonal epidemics, with the highest incidence in children and the elderly population.

The flu usually appears at a certain time of year, usually between the winter months. Doctors tend to suspect when more intense and prolonged 'symptoms of infection' appear than usual.

The flu causes a prolonged high fever (lasting 4-5 days, not the usual 2-3 days for other viruses), respiratory tract symptoms (cough, sore throat, runny nose), and severe muscle aches and pain, and articulate. In addition, it can be accompanied by headache, diarrhea or vomiting. With the flu, the symptoms (cough and tiredness) can last up to 1 to 2 weeks.

Like other viral infections, the flu does not have a curative treatment, that is, antibiotics do not work to cure the disease. The treatment will be the one aimed at improving the symptoms that occur and a lot of patience.

- Paracetamol / ibuprofen will be used for fever, malaise and pain.

- It is also recommended to drink plenty of fluids and rest at home.

Generally the flu is a trivial infection that resolves itself in 7-10 days. However, although no person is exempt from suffering from some complication of this infection, in people at risk it can be more serious, requiring in many cases hospitalization. The most frequent complications are otitis media, pneumonia or worsening of respiratory conditions such as bronchitis.

The flu is spread from before symptoms begin to 10 days after onset. The main mechanisms are:

- Airway, that is, from person to person through a few droplets that we expel when we cough, speak or sneeze.

- Also through direct contact with contaminated secretions that may be on the surfaces (mucus or saliva). For example: if we sneeze and cover our mouth with our hand and do not clean it, then when we touch a person or an object, we will leave the virus for a time on that surface. If a child with the flu picks up an object, puts it in his mouth and then puts it down and another child sees it, the chain starts again!

Therefore, if the little one has the flu and, as I have said, the flu is contagious even before the symptoms begin (and also after) it is not a cause for exclusion from school as such. However, if a person with the flu has a fever and is very unwell, they should rest at home until symptoms improve.

As with the vast majority of infections, the spread of the flu occurs with close contact between people with gestures as harmless as touching someone or sneezing nearby. Children, by living together in classrooms, are the first to become infected, since there are more risks. To try to prevent future infections, I recommend you carry out the following measures:

- Hand washing with soap and water it is the most effective measure to avoid the spread of infections. Especially after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, but also before and after food and before or after changing the diaper.

- Use disposable tissues, disposable, better than saving 'for next time'.

- Teach to cover the mouth with the elbow rather than by hand when coughing or sneezing. If we do it by hand and then don't wash it, we will leave traces of secretions (and viruses) everywhere.

- Ventilate rooms and closed spaces frequently.

- Avoid contact with people sick with the flu/ respiratory processes.

- Clean and disinfect toys frequently and surfaces.

- Do not share glasses, eating utensils, towels, toothbrushes.

-If you suspect / have confirmed a case of flu at home: you can use masks and take extreme hygiene measures previously discussed.

- In the case of influenza, we also have a specific vaccine.

Regarding medications to 'increase defenses', it must be said that there is no scientific evidence regarding their effectiveness.

Why do children have to be vaccinated every year? Through this gesture, can contagion be prevented? Flu vaccines are the only measure that has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of illness.

The flu virus has the ability to 'mutate' every year, so our defenses are not able to recognize them every time the virus returns and this causes us to get sick from the flu every season. For this reason, vaccines are redesigned every year, to adapt them to the changes in the virus that circulates during that season and, therefore, it is important to get vaccinated. Do not forget that vaccines save lives!

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