Children’s flu, fever and symptoms: how to treat them without panicking

from Christine Brown

The pediatrician of the Child Jesus: «This year the flu can last a long time and the fever persists for up to seven days». Paracetamol and ibuprofen can also be alternated

L’influence in children it affects in a very characteristic way: after ashort incubation (1-3 days) L’onset is always suddenwith even high fever that can reach up to 40 °, headache, bone and muscle pain and general malaise. Subsequently, respiratory symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion, sore throat. In babies under six months, fever occurs more rarely, but other symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea are more common and can last up to a week.

Long illness

This year we are facing the first year of returning to normal after the Covid pandemic: without the obligation to mask and with the immune system unused to fighting viruses many children are getting sick. “Certainly the flu and the para-flu forms that normally circulate in this period have reached very high levels and are still on the rise” he confirms Isabella Tarissi, pediatrician at the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome. And consequently the concern of parents who sometimes panic when they go to the emergency rooms of hospitals grows, perhaps even unaccustomed to the flu which in recent years has been much milder. “We must take note that at this time there is ahigh incidence of influenza or flu-like respiratory viruses, headache, malaise, body aches. There is no magic medicine for the virusone must have the patience to tolerate that iThe child may be sick even for 7-10 days, sometimes with a very high fever».

Fever even for a week

«It is true, and this is also what worries parents, who this year the fever persists longer than in the past, even 5-7 days and with sometimes very high temperatures, compared to an average of 3-4 days to which we were used to, which were followed by respiratory symptoms such as cough or cold» explains Dr. Tarissi. «But the fever shouldn’t be scary – she says – because it’s there normal reaction of the organism which is working to fight the infection. We pediatricians have always said to wait 3-4 days of high fever before evaluating the possibility of administering theantibiotic because by then a bacterial infection may have superimposed on it. Today this rule no longer applies, you must wait at least 5-6 days before eventually opting for the antibiotic because in the previous period, in this flu season, it is still the virus that works ».

The thermal curve

In the acute phase of the disease, the pediatrician suggests carefully monitoring the thermal curve: «It is important to do this because at the beginning the fever can even reach 40°-41° and rises every 4-5 hours. Then little by little you have one peak reduction and of distance between a peak and the other means that the infection is improving: the trend of the thermal curve helps us to evaluate the progress of the disease. for this theantipyretic should be taken only if the fever exceeds 38.5 ° or if the child is really suffering a lot with bone and muscle pain or headaches that are unbearable: taking the drug with temperatures that are too low offsets the thermal curve and we pediatricians are unable to understand the real trend of the flu».

Paracetamol or ibuprofen? Sometimes you need a mix

In the event of a fever above 38.5°, the pediatrician suggests administering the paracetamol. “However – underlines Tarissi – sometimes paracetamol does not respond adequately and at this point it is possible to move on to theibuprofen which also has one anti-inflammatory functionuseful for combating muscle pain. The two drugs can be alternatedin particular if high fever persists: Ibuprofen can be administered every 6-8 hours and paracetamol every 4-6 hours. In practice, it may happen that the child takes tachypirina, but after three hours the fever still rises to 39°: the tachypirina cannot be resumed because not enough time has passed for a second administration, and then one can switch to ibuprofen. When paracetamol is not enough it is possible to anticipate the second administration with ibuprofen: the important thing is not to add the same active ingredient too close together, before the times suggested in the leaflet. In any case, it is advisable to ask the pediatrician about how to act when the fever struggles to go down ».

Beware of dehydration

The child with a fever, a runny nose, perhaps even with vomiting or diarrhea is a risk of dehydration, especially if very small, for this reason it is very important to make him drink a lot: water, citrus juices, smoothies, herbal teas. Chicken broth can also help fight dehydration. When the child has a cold it is advisable to put a pillow under the mattress of the cot so that he sleeps a little relieved: in this way the secretions flow better. In the little ones the nasal cavities must be cleaned with washings, the older ones must blow their nose often.

When parents need to worry

When should a parent worry? «A distinction should be made by age group – specifies the pediatrician -. The newborn (up to a month of life) and in any case children up to three years they need extra attention and in their case after three days of fever it is advisable to contact the pediatrician to understand if the therapy should be associated, for example, with an aerosol, in case of inflammation of the lower airways. For the older ones you can wait 5-6 days for a pediatric visit. You go to the emergency room when the disease in young children is not improving, the child is still suffering, struggles to eat and drink, therefore dehydration can take over, or there are important respiratory symptoms that can suggest pneumonia ». In fact, sometimes the flu can lead to overlapping complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, dehydration in the little ones, but it is not always a red alert and in these cases the pediatrician will assess whether the disease can be treated at home or requires a hospitalization.

Rest and convalescence

The flu-stricken child appears a lot tired and weary but this is a normal reaction because your body is working to fight the infection. This need for rest must be indulged because it is one of the best ways to make it heal well: so no rush to go back to school or kindergarten. “It is necessary accept the fact that there must be a recovery. Rest is essential because there is the risk that the organism, not fully recovered, can undergo a relapse with a new parainfluenza infection, an adenovirus, a rhinovirus and at that point the situation can actually escalate. We need to give the body time to recover, without being in a hurry» clarifies the pediatrician.

The vaccine

There is no miracle cure for the flu, but there is a vaccine that can prevent it and it is offered free from six months to six years. However, many regions are offering it to all age groups given the virulence of this year’s epidemic. “The vaccination campaign begins in October, but there is no maximum limit, it can be done even now” concludes Isabella Tarissi -. We have in Italy a quadrivalent vaccine covering by four logs. As with all vaccines, it doesn’t guarantee total coverage, but with the immune system already activated, you generally get sick in a lighter way. To be honest, the vaccine covers those four strains, but there are also rhinoviruses or adenoviruses in circulation for which the vaccine does not exist. It therefore happens that you get sick, despite having had the vaccine ».

December 2, 2022 (change December 2, 2022 | 16:41)

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Children’s flu, fever and symptoms: how to treat them without panicking

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