kidsStudies conducted by the Center for Disease Control show that nearly 20 percent of all U.S. residents get the flu every single year, and a higher percentage of these patients are children. In addition to exceptionally high rates of contraction, nearly two dozen children die each year from generic strains of influenza. But the good news is that many of these unfortunate statistics are preventable.

Here is a closer inspection of the symptoms that are essential for every parent to recognize along with four catalysts that put children at a higher risk of catching the flu.

The Symptoms
Even when children begin to develop the ability to verbally express themselves, they often cannot accurately describe how they feel or what symptoms are taking place. This problem gets worse with infants that tend to display symptoms similar to other, more common  issues such as colic pains.

What parents should realize is that the term ‘flu’ is often used as a generic term given to a number of illnesses around the nose, mouth, throat, and occasionally the lungs. The most common symptoms to watch for in infants and children are:

  • Crankiness
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

While these few symptoms do not necessarily mean that it is flu, it is vital for parents to immediately seek out the services of their primary healthcare provider.

  • If there are any signs of blood in either the stool or vomit or they have high fever, parents should take their child to an emergency health care center.

For those wondering why children are more susceptible to the flu, here is a closer look at some of the leading factors.

Increased Exposure to Germs
While parents may head to work or run errands that will expose them to germs, schools and nurseries are notorious when it comes to the spreading of illnesses.

Children across the city share the germs from their family and other friends if the parents fail to pay attention to proper hygiene habits of kids such as washing hands before meals or telling them the right ways to sneeze.

Weaker Immune Systems
It is typically not until the later teenage years of a child’s life that their immune system will reach full maturity.

  • The underdeveloped immune system of younger children and infants puts them at a greater risk of contracting the flu simply because their bodies do not have the means to deal with the infections in the earliest stages.

When combined with their increased exposure to the germs, the likelihood rises exponentially.

Lack of Vaccination Options
Unfortunately, flu vaccinations are currently not available for infants that are under the age of 6 months.

  • They are also at a higher risk of developing flu and flu-like complications that could lead to lifelong issues if not handled immediately.
  • Children suffering from other medical conditions or taking certain medications may not respond to flu vaccinations or may need alternative treatment options.

Difficulty with Early Diagnosis
Finally, young kids are often not in a position to clearly observe and explain if there’s something wrong with them.

  • It is for the parents to see if their children are behaving differently from what they usually are; for instance lethargy in an otherwise active child, lack of appetite, having trouble sleeping, or a noticeable tenderness of a certain body part.
  • If these symptoms are brought to the notice of the child specialist at an early stage, they can do a more detailed investigation and suggest measures to take control of the situation before it gets severe.

To conclude, it is necessary for parents to always remain aware of the health issues that could affect their children; for example; seasonal flu or allergies. They should learn about the symptoms to look for in kids and also consult their pediatrician in advance if they feel the child is behaving different from normal. Awareness, along with expert medical advice, can to a great extent, prevent your child from contracting influenza.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Michelle Holincheck, FNP