HEALTH NOTEBOOK

With a lit­tle knowl­edge, you’ll learn to recog­nise the symp­toms and make it all bet­ter

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

How to spot in­fluenza, and treat a nose­bleed

What is it?

In­fluenza (or the flu, as it is com­monly known) is a vi­ral re­s­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tion that af­fects the nose, throat and lungs.

What are the symp­toms?

The flu tends to be a much more se­vere virus than the common cold, how­ever the symp­toms are quite sim­i­lar.

Common in­di­ca­tions of in­fluenza in chil­dren in­clude a high fever, headache, sore throat, runny nose, cough and mus­cle aches. In some cases it can bring on nau­sea and di­ar­rhoea. In­fluenza can be con­tracted quite quickly, but can take weeks for the lethargy and cough­ing to stop com­pletely.

How do ba­bies get it?

In­fluenza is highly con­ta­gious at spe­cific times of the year. Pro­fes­sor Robert Booy from The Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal at West­mead says one of these is win­ter, as peo­ple spend a lot of time in­side and closer to each other. “Viruses are spread ei­ther by touch or by peo­ple sneez­ing and cough­ing, caus­ing droplets to fly through the air,” he says. “If some­one sneezes or coughs just a metre away, you’re more likely to catch it.”

What can you do?

The best pre­ven­tion against in­fluenza is keep­ing up to date with flu vac­ci­na­tions. “In ad­di­tion to common-sense mea­sures, like avoid­ing con­tact with symp­to­matic peo­ple, vac­ci­na­tion gives con­sid­er­able pro­tec­tion,” says Robert, how­ever he notes this isn’t a fail-safe method. “Chil­dren could still catch it, as some­one could sneeze or cough near them.”

If in the end your child has con­tracted the flu, treat­ing the symp­toms can pro­vide re­lief. Eas­ing con­ges­tion with saline drops as well as reg­u­lar doses of parac­eta­mol and plenty of rest should bring com­fort.

When to see your GP

Chil­dren get lots of colds ev­ery year, but it’s ad­vis­able to see a doc­tor if your lit­tle one re­fuses flu­ids or is vom­it­ing fre­quently.

“If there are symp­toms of lethargy or high fever, or if a runny nose or cough are worse than usual, par­ents should trust their in­stincts and take their child to see their GP,” Robert says.

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