Home Care for Children Suffering from the Flu
Rainy season has indeed invaded the Philippines. And with the rains and the floods, come various diseases, the most common of which is the flu. The current Influenza A-H1N1 pandemic has even brought the numerous health risks to greater heights.
Good thing our company provided us with free flu shots last May, so the flu at least, no longer poses a great threat. Although the flu is self-limiting, it can lead to dangerous complications like pneumonia and asthmatic crisis. As most of us know, people who are at greater risks for complications are older adults, pregnant women and young children.
People who get the flu can be treated at home. This disease is caused by a respiratory virus and as mentioned earlier, is self-limiting, meaning that the infection runs a certain course. But you should be alert for symptoms that signify a secondary bacterial infection.
When your children contract the flu, you may or may not bring them to the doctor immediately, depending on their overall physical condition, underlying health risks, and the severity of the infection.
Below are simple steps to take
when caring for your flu-infected children at home. This information though should not be taken as a substitute to professional medical advice. Even if you plan to care for your sick child at home, you may still need to consult your doctor for proper evaluation of your child's condition to avoid complications.
Increase your child’s fluid intake.
Make it a point ht your child is adequately hydrated by giving him or her at least 8 glasses of water daily. Milk and fruit juices also help but water should comprise the main fluid source. Adequate hydration helps relieve nasal congestion, helps loosen hardened phlegm and enables the body fight the infection.
Ensure that your child is properly nourished.
While it is true that flu causes appetite loss, you should remember that good nutrition plays a vital role in strengthening the body and enhancing its defense against illnesses. If your children can’t eat solid food much due to sore throat, then give them soup or cereals topped with fresh fruits.
Provide sufficient ventilation.
Children with the flu should be kept in a properly ventilated room to help ease the breathing difficulty that often accompanies this disease. Good ventilation also helps lower fever which is usually high in people with the flu.
Be sure to have the right medications.
Since the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotic therapy is generally not needed especially in uncomplicated cases. In such cases, the treatment is simply symptomatic and supportive. In this mode of treatment, the focus of the medications is relief of the manifested symptoms. For fever, antipyretics like paracetamol or ibuprofen may be given. For cough, mucolytics to promote coughing out of phlegm may be administered. Nasal decongestants may also be needed. However, many doctors don’t prescribe such drugs and only encourage patients to increase fluid intake for relief of congestion. When your child has an underlying medical condition and taking maintenance therapy for it, you need to consult the doctor first before giving any drug to your child.
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Double the vitamin C intake of your child.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid helps strengthen the immune system thus, it can help boost your child's resistance to infections. Aside from giving fresh fruits to your child, be sure that you also double his/her regular vitamin C intake.
Apply ice packs or wet towels.
On and off fever lasting between 2 to 5 days is generally seen in people suffering from flu. Since drugs that lower temperature may only be given every four hours, ice packs or wet towels are therefore very useful in controlling the rise of temperature when antipyretic medications are not yet safe to give to your sick child.
Promote sufficient rest.
Flu is associated with general body weakness, muscle and joint pains and sometimes dizziness, so make sure that your child gets to lie down as much as possible during the acute stage. Dizziness may cause your child to stumble or fall so allow him/her to lie down or sit and rest.
Provide emotional support.
Kids are normally active so they may not feel depressed, anxious or apprehensive when they could not even stand up for long less alone engage in their regular activities. My daughter has been down with the flu since yesterday, and what touched us most was when she begged us to let her feel well saying that she could not understand what she’s feeling. She asked me why she feels weak and how long she’s going to have fever and body weakness. So I explained to her that what she is experiencing is normal for people who have flu and that these symptoms should disappear in 3 to 5 days.
Children generally know that something is wrong with their body, although they could not understand it. So it is important to explain to them in a way that they can understand why they are feeling what they feel.
Home care is possible for children suffering from the flu, but you need to watch out for signs which need professional medical help, such as aggravated or prolonged symptoms and presence of other non-flu-like symptoms.