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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). Most children recover from the flu without extra medical care. Your task as a parent is to offer your child comfort and peace, a safe embrace, relief from a sore throat and plenty of ice cream and juice. There is no need to visit the pediatric emergency room for tests if your child only 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 105-107F (41-42C) that remains for up to a week. Runny or congested nose and sneezing are also common. Your child’s immune system is often able to fight the flu. You just need to offer your children some comfort and love, make sure they drink adequate amounts and help ease their symptoms EG. giving them acetaminophen when required for sore throat or fever.
Severe flu can lead to pneumonia
The flu can sometimes lead to pneumonia, which can be mild or severe. A child with pneumonia coughs intensely, persistent fever and finds it increasingly difficult to breathe. If your child has difficulty breathing or shows any signs of dehydration, go to the emergency department. If their breathing is severe, ambulance transport may be recommended.
Tamiflu and other flu medications
There are medications that can slow the progress of the flu virus. You’ve probably heard of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir). Flu medications are recommended for people with increased risk of severe nearly life-threatening flu. This is especially relevant for children with immune deficiencies, children who are taking immunosuppressive drugs, or children who have severe asthma. Children with multiple disabilities also have an increased risk of a severe flu and should take flu medication. And anyone (young, middle aged or older) who has severe flu and pneumonia, should also receive flu medications.
Preventing the flu
The best protection we have against influenza is the flu vaccine. It cannot protect us 100%, and the level of protection also varies from year to year, but it’s the best we have at the moment. Children in the risk group are recommended annual flu vaccinations. This is voluntary, but encouraged. Therefore, it is often up to you as a parent to vaccinate your child.
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 publish weekly flu reports for public knowledge. Feel free to monitor the situation yourself.