Parents need to have some basic knowledge and understanding about swine flu, in order to protect their children from this viral disease. This article discusses some important risk factors, symptoms, and certain precautionary measures that can help prevent the spread of this viral disease.
Swine flu commonly refers to the infection caused by any of the several strains of swine influenza or swine origin influenza viruses. This viral infection is endemic in pigs, but humans can also get this infection at times, though the transmission of the virus directly from pigs to humans is not so common. The infection can however, spread from human to human.
The great swine flu epidemic in 2009 was caused by the influenza A (H1N1) virus. The symptoms of this viral infection in children are more or less similar to the symptoms observed in adults. However, children are at an increased risk of developing the complications associated with swine flu, for which it is very important to detect the infection at an early stage.
Swine Flu in Children
Some people are found to have a higher risk of getting infected by the swine influenza virus, and develop the complications associated with the infection, if the infection is not treated at the earliest. People who are more likely to develop a serious infection or the complications associated with swine flu are:
- Young children under the age of 5 years
- People aged 65 years or older
- Pregnant women
- Children and adults with chronic asthma, neurological problems, chronic lung diseases, and heart, kidney, and liver diseases
- Adults and children with diabetes and obesity
Unlike the usual flu virus, the H1N1 virus spreads quite rapidly, and this is the reason why it created a global pandemic. Typically, swine flu produces the same symptoms in children and adults. The symptoms are also more or less similar to the symptoms associated with common flu. The following are some of the most common symptoms that can be produced by this viral infection:
- Sudden high fever (body temperature higher than 100.4°F)
- A sore throat
- Sneezing and a runny nose
- Unusual fatigue and tiredness
- Sudden cough
- Aching muscles
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea
The symptoms of this viral infection can become more serious in children under the age of 5 years, and those with asthma. Following are some of the severe symptoms of this infection in young children, which call for immediate medical attention:
- Fast breathing or breathing difficulty
- Less frequent urination, and lack of tears in the eyes when crying (signs of dehydration)
- Bluish or gray-colored skin
- Persistent vomiting
- Difficulty in waking up
- Not interacting normally
- Not maintaining eye contact
- Return of the flu-like symptoms after improving for a while
As mentioned already, young children and children with an underlying health problem, like asthma or lung diseases are more likely to experience the aforementioned symptoms. Be sure to inform a physician or pediatrician on observing any of these severe swine flu symptoms in children.
Parents and caregivers should also have some basic knowledge about the swine flu virus, like how the influenza virus gets transmitted from an infected person to a healthy individual. Swine flu generally spreads through direct contact with the respiratory secretion (droplets of cough or sneeze) of the infected individual.
The infected individuals can remain contagious up to seven days from the time of developing the symptoms. They can also be contagious a day or two before exhibiting the flu symptoms. As far as the treatment of swine flu is concerned, various antiviral medications are available for this purpose. Swine flu vaccines are also available to protect young children from this viral infection.
It is important to know and recognize the symptoms of this disease for ensuring its prompt treatment. However, along with proper treatment, it is equally important to take certain precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Good personal hygiene, like washing your and your child’s hands frequently, and covering the nose and the mouth while coughing and sneezing, can help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus. Equally important is to keep your children away from individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Also, do not touch your eyes, nose, or the mouth with unwashed or unclean hands, and teach your children to avoid doing the same. Lastly, if you or your children are experiencing flu-like symptoms, then seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.