Children are born with immature immune systems, putting them at risk for infection and viral illness.
The risks eventually go down over time, but it is something to give attention to for parents and guardians.
A virus is the simplest germ that can cause infections such as the common cold, tonsillitis, ear infection, rash, and flu (influenza). According to national geographic, millions, even quadrillion viruses, exist on earth.
The spread of the virus happens from person to person in the form of tiny droplets. It can pass from the nose and mouth through sneezing and coughing. It can also occur through vomit or feces, especially if the child has diarrhea. It can quickly spread when people have close physical contact, such as schools, daycare, and play areas.
There is usually a delay between the day of the exposure and when the person will develop this illness. The first symptom usually appears two to three days after catching the virus.
Signs and Symptoms
A virus can infect a child’s respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and chest. The infection can cause any or all the following symptoms:
- runny or stuffy nose
- mild to moderate headache
- body aches and pain in other areas of the body
- sore throat
- watery eyes
- tiredness or wanting to sleep more (lethargic)
- lack of appetite
- feeling generally unwell.
Most viruses have mild effects in children, but infants under three months old may become ill quickly and need to be seen by a professional.
First Aid Treatment
Here are several ways to treat a person with a viral illness
- Give lots of fluids
Water is essential if the child is vomiting or has diarrhea. Fluid intake helps ease a sore throat by keeping it moist, and it replaces the electrolytes lost through sweat and vomit. It also prevents dehydration.
Give the child sips of water or other drinks with electrolytes. These drinks contain a mix of minerals such as sodium and potassium.
- Take medications
Antibiotics do not work in most viral illnesses or infections. There are antiviral medications that help address these viruses. Vaccines are also recommended.
- Get enough rest
Allow the child to rest. Keep them away from school, daycare, playground, or other public places while they have a fever.
- Wait for the doctor’s advice.
Avoid using other remedies unless advised by a doctor or a health care professional.
After getting the viral illness, follow-up care is vital for treatment and safety. Be sure to attend all appointments and call the doctor if there are any other symptoms. It is also a good idea to undergo some tests and keep a list of prescribed medications.
When to Seek Help
Seek immediate medical care if the person starts showing signs of dehydration. These include sunken eyes, dry mouth (little to no spit), and no urine for at least a day.
Call the doctor if a child has a new or higher fever, not feeling better within 2-3 days and if the child’s symptoms worsen.
Viral illness is common in children, infants, and people with a poor immune system.
It is common to have up to 12 viral infections in infants and children in the first few years of life. While most viruses are not alarming, parents and guardians should notice their worsening symptoms.
The best treatment is to get enough rest and stay at home. Take note that antibiotics will not help in treating viral illness. If the child’s symptoms do not improve after 48 hours or the symptoms get worse, see a doctor.
Learn more about your viral illness in children and how to provide initial treatment in a childcare first aid course.