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About Influenza or Flu

Influenza or flu is caused by a virus. There are many different types of influenza viruses. The most common are types A and B.

Influenza viruses keep changing. This is why you can get the flu many times.

Influenza happens most often during winter. Occasionally, the virus becomes more widespread and causes an ‘outbreak’. When an outbreak happens, more people than normal get the flu.

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms in children are usually very similar to cold symptoms.

Flu symptoms include a runny nose, a sore throat, cough, fever, headache and muscle aches. Your child might be shivering and also feel very hot or very cold.

Flu might occasionally cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Flu can come on very quickly and usually lasts 2-5 days, although the tiredness and cough can last for several weeks.

When people say they have the flu, they usually really have a cold. It’s hard to tell the symptoms apart. People with flu might have more muscle pain and chills.

Flu Complications

Flu is usually quite mild in children but can cause complications. These complications can sometimes be very serious.

The most common flu complication is pneumonia. A child with pneumonia will look unwell and might breathe faster and harder than normal.

Flu can be more serious in children with long-term (chronic) medical problems, pregnant women and other adults, especially old people.

Does your child need to see a Dr about flu?

You should take your child to the GP if:

  • Your child can’t or won’t drink fluids

  • Your child vomits frequently

  • Your child doesn’t show some improvement within 48 hours

  • You’re worried that your child is very unwell.

You should call an ambulance or go to a hospital emergency department if your child:

  • Has an intense headache

  • Is pale and sleepy

  • Is breathing faster or harder than normal.

Flu treatment