Most likely if you’re reading this you either have the flu or know someone who does. If you’ve come down with a case of the flu you are not alone as roughly 200,000 people will be hospitalized due to flu complications this year. And the one question we get most this time of year is regarding the longevity of this terrible flu virus. So, So how long does the Flu last in children?
The quickest answer (and I know you don’t want to hear this but it’s true) is that ‘it depends.’ Everyone’s body is different and there are simply some that are in better shape than others to fight a nasty virus like influenza. You could put an 80-year old man next to a 15-year old boy (both stricken with the Flu) and find that the virus will last different amounts of time for each one. So when I get a question like this my first reaction is always to answer a question with a question and say “So, how healthy are you?”
When it comes to normal healthy children I would say the range is between 4 and 10 days for the Flu to take it’s course. It’s very dependent on how nutritionally healthy the child’s body is and whether they take medications prescribed by a doctor to help alleviate the symptoms or kill the virus. In most normal influenza cases, doctors will not prescribe any medication and will advise parents to give their child plenty of fluids and rest. In these cases I would say the child will be under the weather for about 5 to 7 day before they are noticeably better and able to resume normal activities. Now, this is also dependent on whether your child is very young (infants and toddlers) and whether they have been exposed to enough sicknesses to strengthen their immune systems. If they haven’t you may find these younger children may be fighting the Flu for a few more days than others might.
In addition, if your child has received their annual Flu Vaccine shot you may find that the Flu will not last as long or may not be as severe. Most doctors will advise parents that the Flu Vaccine is not a 100% prevention method as you can still contract the virus, but the symptoms and length of time being sick will be very much diminished in most cases.
The bottom line is that if your child is healthy and maintains good nutrition then the Flu Virus may come and go in a shorter amount of time, but again everyone’s body is different. Flu Viruses affect people in many different ways but the ‘rule of thumb’ is it will take about a good week before the symptoms are totally gone and the child feels better.
So how do you make sure the Flu doesn’t last long next time with your child? Here are five important things to do to reduce the amount of days the Flu lasts:
1. Make sure children and parents obtain the Flu Shot each year. Each year’s Flu Vaccine is different and designed to tackle the different strains that are most prevalent so it’s very important to get a Flu Shot each and every year if possible.
2. Make sure kids maintain good nutrition. The best way to reduce the length of time your child is sick from the Flu is to eat well and stay away from junk food. The next time the kids don’t want to eat their veggies, ask them if they would prefer to have the Flu for 2-weeks! It always works.
3. Take a multivitamin. All kids should be taking a multivitamin this time of year on a daily basis to make sure they have all the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay healthy. A vitamin supplement is definitely not going to prevent the flu but it will help reduce it’s duration.
4. Drink lots of water and maintain good hydration. Too many times children with the Flu do not drink enough water and they become dehydrated. This affects the body’s ability to fight the virus and can increase the amount of time they remain sick. All children should be drinking as much water as possible to help the body rid itself of the virus and shorten the amount of time they are sick with the Flu.
5. Rest, Rest, Rest. Although your child may want to stay up and watch cartoons all day, the best thing for them is to sleep as much as possible. A child’s body simply cannot fight off the Flu Virus if they’re tired so make those naps mandatory. It’s one of the most important things to do to shorten the time a child is sick.
So the next time you or your child comes down with the Flu and you need to know how long does Flu last, know that if you follow some simple rules the Flu will not last very long at all. Good luck to you and stay healthy!