The flu is a highly contagious viral infection that is easily spread through infected persons and surfaces.

What causes the flu?

  • The influenza virus: The flu is caused by specific influenza viruses that primarily attack the respiratory system (nose, throat, lungs).
  • Contagious spread: The flu spreads easily through droplets from infected people coughing, sneezing, or talking. You can also catch it by touching infected surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Virus mutations: Influenza viruses change constantly. This means you can get sick with the flu multiple times, even if you've had it before.

Understanding flu symptoms in children

The flu often looks like a bad cold, but symptoms are usually more intense. Common signs of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Vomiting (sometimes)
  • Muscle weakness

Important: The flu can lead to complications like pneumonia, especially in young children. Seek medical advice if symptoms are severe.

How is the flu treated?

  • Rest and fluids: These help the immune system fight the virus.
  • Over-the-counter medications: Manage fever, aches, and coughs.
  • Antivirals (sometimes): Doctor might prescribe these to shorten the illness.

Preventing the flu in children

  • Annual flu shot: The BEST protection. Recommended for all kids 6 months and older. The vaccine helps against the most common virus strains each season.
  • Hygiene: Good handwashing habits stop the flu from spreading.
  • If someone's sick: Clean frequently touched surfaces and start treatment quickly to limit how long they are contagious.