This post is also available in: Svenska
Flu (influenza) is a viral disease that, in the vast majority of cases, causes up to a week of high fever, coughing, cold symptoms and body aches (especially in older children and adults). The vast majority of children can handle the flu by themselves. Your task as a parent is to offer your child comfort and peace, a safe embrace, relief of sore throat and plenty of ice cream and juice. There is no need to visit the pediatric emergency room for tests if your child just has the flu. However, if your child has a severe heart disease, lung disease, brain damage or immunodeficiency AND the flu, then they may need flu medications.
Symptoms of the flu
In the vast majority of cases, influenza causes fever, coughing and body aches. It’s not uncommon for young children to have a fever of up to 41-42C (105-107F) that stays for up to a week. Runny or stuffy nose and sneezing are also common. Children’s immune system’s are usually able to fight the flu off itself. Your role as a parent will be to offer comfort and peace, make sure that the child drinks properly and ease their symptoms eg. sore throat, fever and cough.
Severe flu can cause pneumonia
The flu can sometimes cause pneumonia, which can be mild or severe. A child with pneumonia has an intense cough and finds it increasingly difficult to breathe.
If your child has difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical care. If the breathing is severe, ambulance transport may be recommended.
Tamiflu and other flu medications
There are drugs that can slow the progress of the flu virus. Perhaps the most well-known medication is Tamiflu (oseltamivir). But there is also another medication called Relenza (zanamivir). Flu medications are recommended for people with increased risk of severe flu, especially for children with immune deficiencies, immunosuppressive drugs or severe asthma. Children with multiple disabilities also have an increased risk of a severe flu. Anyone with a severe flu with pneumonia should also receive flu medications.
Preventing the flu
The best protection we have against influenza is the flu vaccine. It cannot protect you absolutely 100%, and the level of protection also varies from year to year, but it’s the best we have at the moment. Children at risk are recommended annual flu vaccinations, but unfortunately there is no smooth vaccination service for children in Sweden. Therefore it is often up to you as a parent to seek the vaccination for your child.
Read more about the influenza vaccine during pregnancy
The flu situation in Sweden right now
The Public Health Agency monitors the influenza situation in Sweden every year. From week 40 in Autumn, they send out weekly flu reports.
Influenza vaccine for children
Influenza vaccine for pregnant women