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When the kids get it - what parents should know about the flu in children

In the autumn and winter months, children are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections such as colds, coughs, and influenza (the real flu). Parents are put to the test during this time.

Distinguishing between the flu and a cold is already a challenge. However, caution is also advised in the medicinal treatment of childhood flu.

How parents can correctly recognize the flu in children

Colds in children are often caused by various viruses, including rhinoviruses. There are more than 200 different cold viruses that are transmitted through speaking, sneezing, or touching surfaces. However, a real flu (influenza) can also occur, caused by influenza viruses.

Influenza viruses are highly contagious and are transmitted through droplets when speaking, coughing, and sneezing. Infection occurs by inhaling the viruses or direct contact through hands that transfer the viruses to mucous membranes.

Flu vs. Cold – what's the difference in children

The distinction between a cold and the flu is made based on symptoms. The flu manifests with sudden, severe symptoms and a strong feeling of illness, while a cold develops gradually and is milder.

Typical symptoms of the flu include sudden fever, dry cough, muscle and joint pain, and a strong feeling of illness. In children, nausea, vomiting, hoarseness, and coughing, even progressing to croup symptoms, may occur.

A strong immune system in children is the best defense.

Kind spielt draußen mit seinen Eltern.

The course of the flu can be serious, especially for children with chronic conditions. Therefore, it is important to strengthen children's immune systems by ensuring they get plenty of fresh air, have a varied diet, and are not exposed to passive smoking.

Children's immune defenses develop over time. Toddlers are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections as their immune system is still learning to cope with pathogens.

Caution is advised when it comes to flu medication for children. When using medications, parents should be very careful. Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications are not suitable for children and can be dangerous. For example, aspirin and medications containing aspirin should be avoided in children with the flu, as they can cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition.

For the treatment of flu symptoms in children, doctors often recommend pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to alleviate fever and pain. However, it is extremely important to use the correct dosage as per the doctor's instructions or the dosage indications on the packaging.

In general, it is advisable to always have a well-equipped home pharmacy. Especially during the flu season, certain medications may become scarce in pharmacies.