Influenza, also known as flu, is a viral infection that affects both children and adults. Though some of the symptoms that are experienced during common cold and influenza are similar, influenza is more severe and might leave a child bedridden for days. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on the duration for which flu might last in children.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory infection that is caused by influenza viruses. If any of the influenza (A, B, or C) viruses find a way into our body, it gives rise to a variety of distressing symptoms. These viruses easily spread to others through person-to-person contact. Flu is common during winters and school-going children are most commonly affected due to the infectious nature of this medical condition. If one child in the class gets infected, it wouldn’t be long before the onset of symptoms in other children. This is due to the fact that when a child infected by the influenza virus coughs or sneezes, the virus becomes airborne.
The inhalation of the respiratory secretions or person-to-person contact causes the transmission of the virus. Since some of the symptoms of flu are similar to that of common cold, many people might ignore the symptoms thinking of it being just a common cold. If left untreated, the symptoms of influenza can worsen and cause a great deal of discomfort. It is therefore important to know the difference between common cold and influenza.
Difference between Common Cold and Influenza
Though both common cold and influenza are respiratory conditions that surface during the winter season, influenza could have serious repercussions on one’s health. The symptoms of a common cold include nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, or sore throat. A common cold is never a cause of serious concern, however, influenza can pose serious health risks.
Common cold affects the nose and throat, but influenza can give rise to body ache and a host of other distressing symptoms. Influenza A virus can affect humans, as well as animals. It spreads through contact. Influenza A virus has been known for causing deadly epidemics such as bird flu or swine flu in the past. The risk of flu is great in populated places. This is the reason why school-going children who stay in close contact are more susceptible.
When a child infected with this virus coughs or sneezes, the air droplets containing the viruses can be inhaled by others. Sharing personal items of the infected person can also spread the virus to others. Once one comes into contact with the influenza virus, the symptoms will appear soon, unlike common cold, where the symptoms appear gradually. One is likely to experience severe symptoms at the onset of flu. The symptoms of flu in children and adults include high fever, chills, dry cough, cold, body aches, malaise, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and weakness.
For How Long Does Influenza Last in Children?
In case of adults, the symptoms of flu might last anywhere between 7 to 10 days, but young children and old people might take longer to recover. One’s ability to fight off the infection depends on how strong one’s immune system is. Since the immune system is yet to mature in very young children, they are at an increased risk of developing complications in the absence of prompt medical treatment.
If certain anti-viral medications are taken within 48 hours, these can stop the virus from reproducing and thus, the severity of the symptoms might be greatly reduced. If the immune system of a child has been weakened by a chronic disease, there is a great risk of flu worsening into pneumonia. Once a child has been diagnosed with flu, it’s essential that he/she takes ample rest.
Besides using drugs and taking rest, one can also follow certain home remedies. Staying well-hydrated, inhaling steam, and drinking herbal tea are some of the effective home remedies. If all the precautionary measures are taken, then a child may be able to recover from flu in a couple of weeks. Administration of flu vaccine before the flu season is one of the most effective preventive measures.
Though one cannot give a definitive answer on the duration for which flu can last in children, prompt medical treatment can definitely speed up the process of recovery and prevent dangerous complications. So, if your child has been experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, instead of assuming it to be common cold, let a doctor ascertain whether it is flu or not.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.