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By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Influenza begins with a rise in temperature and pains everywhere. The fever disappears in 3 to 4 days. If your child is drowsy or has trouble breathing, you must call the doctor immediately.

Influenza is a very common disease during the winter half-year. Often, it occurs as an epidemic. This means that many people in the same area fall ill at the same time.

The illness is caused by a viral infection. It starts of a sudden with high fever, 39-40°C or higher, possible chills, strong headache, muscle pain (pains everywhere) and a strong sense of being ill.

Contrary to common cold, a child is rarely snotty when having influenza. On the other hand, stomach aches and vomiting is common with influenza, especially the first couple of days of the illness. The virus can spread to the airways (bronchi) and the lungs and cause a strong cough.

The illness is not dangerous and passes by itself. After 3 to 4 days, the temperature falls and after 6 to 7 days, the child has recovered. Influenza can cause complications with pneumonia, bronchitis, inflammation of the middle ear and other bacterial diseases that are treatable.

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Influenza is highly contagious. The illness infects through air via coughing and sneezing. The infected area covers the entire house – which means that all who enters the house are exposed to contagion.

Day care:
The child is kept at home until its temperature is normal and the child can participate in its usual activities without extra care.


If the child complains about pains or is bothered by high fever, it can be helpful to administer paracetamol. Paracetamol is both a painkiller and an antipyretic. Remember that children less than 2 years old should not be medicated without consulting a doctor. Only in special cases, children need vaccination for influenza. Children with pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, immune disorder and HIV-infected should be vaccinated when they are more than 6 months old.

What can you do?

The child should be dressed lightly and stay in a cool room to bring the temperature down. The child should have plenty to drink, since it loses fluid when it has a fever and vomits. Fluid containing salt and sugar, for example lemonade, can be used. It is a good idea to administer antipyretics at bedtime, since it gives the child a calmer sleep.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If, after an improvement, it worsens with fever again. If the child has had a fever for more than 4 days.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the child is drowsy. If the child has trouble breathing. If the temperature is higher than 40,5ºC.