Winter can be a magical time for children in dry winter climates. It’s the season of giving and it’s filled with snow days, sledding, ice-skating, and of course…plenty of delicious hot chocolate. Unfortunately, winter is also the time of year when viruses, like the flu, tend to creep up. And for children whose immune systems are still developing, the winter season can sometimes be cruel to those who aren’t prepared.
What Increases the Risk of Flu in Children?
Kids inhale about 50% more air than adults. Obviously, all that playtime activity is great for their social and physical development, but it places a strong emphasis on the need for Healthy Air.
In fact, it’s been proven that the flu virus thrives in dry air, making wintertime a sort of biological gauntlet for people with subpar immune systems: mainly growing children and elderly family members.
Plus, kids are often more careless when it comes to washing their hands or avoiding contagious children, leading to more opportunities for the flu to spread.
Identifying Types of Flu Viruses
The flu can manifest in three forms – Influenza A, B, and C – each of which mutate frequently, causing the need for annual flu shots.
Types A and B
According to Johns Hopkins, Influenza A and B are the two types of viruses commonly associated with “widespread illness” each winter. These two types most often include mutating strains that public health officials try to mitigate each season due to increased hospitalizations and even deaths.
Both animals and humans carry the Influenza A strain. This strain of the virus is the same strain in multiple historic pandemics such as the Swine Flu and Bird Flu.
Only humans carry the Influenza B strain.
Research estimates show that “Influenza A infections account for 75% of confirmed influenza infections overall.”
Influenza A and B share similar symptoms like fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and body aches.
Compared to Influenza A and B, Influenza C is seemingly a cakewalk in comparison, according to Johns Hopkins. This form of the flu doesn’t cause epidemics or major attention from public health officials like Influenza A and B. It can take the form of a mild respiratory illness or result in no symptoms at all.
How to Ease Symptoms of Flu in Children
There are some tried and true ways to ease symptoms of the flu in children. Keeping kids hydrated is critical. Beyond that, getting plenty of rest and performing saltwater rinses are other common ways to ease flu symptoms.
Some lesser-known natural remedies like drinking apple cider vinegar, elderberry syrup, or green tea with honey may also provide relief – though, it may be harder to get your little one to sit down and enjoy those. (We know they can be picky.)
Truthfully, prevention is the best medicine. Dry air is often the culprit that leads to the spread of the flu each winter. Humidification perhaps might be the best flu prevention available.
In one study, schools with humidification showed only 30% of student absences were due to flu-like symptoms. Alternatively, schools without humidification showed 70% of student absences were due to flu-like symptoms.
In your home, whole-home humidifiers can make a big difference during the winter, giving your family peace of mind during the cool, dry season.
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If your kids start showing signs of flu symptoms, talk to your pediatrician about flu shots and other medicinal options. At home, take the first step in preventing your family from illness this season with a whole-home humidifier, or learn more about Healthy Humidity and its effect on our health.