Pediatric Viral Infections
Pediatric Viral Infections Overview
Most viral infections, from sore throats to colds, are not serious, and most children who catch a viral infection get better without prescriptive treatment. In many cases, your Wellstar pediatrician should be able to diagnose whether your child has a viral infection based on symptoms—but sometimes, laboratory tests might be necessary to differentiate between viral and bacterial infection. Most viral infections result in fever, achiness and discomfort, with physicians treating the symptoms with symptomatic treatment which might include pain control and fever reducers
However, parents should also be aware of the dangers associated with some viruses like influenza, also known as the flu. Unlike most viral respiratory infections, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in some individuals. The flu is generally contracted in the same airborne manner as the common cold.
Typically, several symptoms are present when your child is struggling with a viral infection, The symptoms might include:
- Temperature: a fever (100.4°F (38°C) measured rectally; 100°F (37.8°C) orally; 99°F (37.2°C) under the arm) is one of the first signs that your child has a viral infection. However, fever alone cannot be used to identify a viral infection, since it also is a key sign of a bacterial infection. See our Fever page.
- Diarrhea and/or vomiting: These are typical if a viral infection is in the stomach or gastrointestinal tract.
- Coughing: Indicates there might be congestion.
- Runny nose and/or sore throat: Such symptoms usually occur when infection is present.
- Swollen glands in the neck often accompany a sore throat.
- Headache and/or body aches: Aches often accompany a viral infection.
Know the FACTS to Recognize Flu
- (F) Fever
- (A) Aches
- (C) Chills
- (T) Tiredness
- (S) Sudden Symptoms
Pediatric Viral Infections Prevention
Common sense helps when it comes to keeping your child safe from viral infections: make sure they get plenty of rest and fluids and washes their hands often. They should not share eating utensils, toothbrushes, towels, and drinking cups. Also, your own health practices make a difference—from not smoking in the house to making sure everyone gets their annual flu shot.
Reminders for Preventing Viral Infections
- Wash hands.
- Avoid sharing anything with a sick person.
- Wash dishes in hot water.
- Don’t smoke around your child.
- Get a flu shot yearly.
- Teach your child to avoid rubbing their nose.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and fluids.
- Use common sense around buffets during cold season.
Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond.
There are two types of vaccines:
- The "flu shot"—an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than six months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine—a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine" or FluMist®). LAIV (FluMist®) is approved for use in healthy people two to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The flu vaccine for the 2010-2011 season will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus). About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
Pediatric Viral Infections Diagnosis
A viral infection is usually diagnosed on the basis of physical symptoms and the history of the illness. A condition such as influenza, which is caused by a virus, is generally easy to diagnose because most people are familiar with the symptoms. Other types of viral infections may be harder to diagnose and various tests may have to be performed.
Pediatric Viral Infections Treatment
In most cases, home care is the best for viral infections—with your mother’s advice of plenty of rest and fluids still a good rule of thumb. Your Wellstar pediatrician might suggest pain medication as needed—and remember it is not safe to give either honey to babies less than 12 months old or aspirin to children.
For Stuffy Noses
- For babies younger than three months, use saline (saltwater) nose drops to thin nasal discharge. Place a few drops of the saline into each nostril followed by gentle bulb suction.
- During the illness, use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer in your child's room.
- This helps moisten the air and may help clear your child's nasal passages.
To Relieve A Cough
For a child aged four years and older, cough drops or lozenges may help soothe the throat. Do not give cough drops or lozenges to a child younger than four years because they could choke on them.
Ongoing Care for Pediatric Viral Infections
Most viral infections will get better with symptomatic treatment such as pain control and reducing fever with acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Parents can make their children more comfortable as they recover by using home-based care, such as providing plenty of rest and fluids.
Wellstar offers long-standing, community-based pediatricians who are close to home and trained to:
- Help you determine healthy lifestyles for your child and useful ways to role model your choices.
- Offer advice to prevent illness and injuries.
- Provide early and appropriate care of acute illness to prevent its progression.
- Treat life-threatening childhood conditions requiring intensive care.
- Guide you in anticipating your child’s needs from birth to adulthood.
Pediatric Emergency and Immediate Care Center
Certified nurses with pediatric advanced life support certification work with Wellstar’s board-certified emergency services physicians in the Pediatric EDs at Wellstar Cobb and Kennestone hospitals. The Pediatric Emergency Department at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital is open seven days a week, from 11 AM to 11 PM. The Pediatric ED at Wellstar Cobb Hospital is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.