This year the flu is hitting hard and spreading fast. The flu (influenza virus) is a serious illness that effects the breathing system and can lead to hospitalization and accounts for numerous deaths every year. What can you do to prevent the flu or keep it from spreading through your house?
- Get the flu shot. Safe vaccines are made each year to protect from 1 strain from last year and 2 new strains. Talk to your doctor if you, or your children, haven’t yet been vaccinated.
- Wash hands frequently and clean door knobs, toilet handles, counter tops and toys with disinfectant wipes.
- Teach children to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow, and to not touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Never let children share pacifiers, sippy cups, utensils, or towels without washing.
Flu season usually lasts from early fall until early spring but can be unpredictable, and there are multiple strains of influenza, so children will probably get the flu many times in their life time.
Signs and symptoms of the flu are:
- Sudden onset of a high fever, usually above 101.F
- Chills, body shakes, muscle aches, feeling very tired and weak
- Headache, sore throat, hacking cough and stuffy or runny nose.
- Some children will vomit or develop diarrhea.
Treatment of the flu includes:
- An antiviral medication, that should be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Call your doctor within the first 24 hours if your child is younger than 2 years, or has a chronic medical condition.
- Lots of rest and fluids. Over the counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring their fever down, (discuss all medications with your doctor)
- Keep your child home. Children shouldn’t return to school or day care until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without medication.
NEVER GIVE ANY CHILD ASPIRIN. Aspirin given with a virus can cause a very serious medical condition called Reyes Syndrome, that affects the liver and brain.
Contact your pediatrician immediately if your child develops symptoms of the flu and
- Is less than 6 months old
- Has any chronic medical disorders that make it difficult for your child to breath or cough up mucous.
- Is breathing fast or appears to have trouble breathing
- Looks very sick
- Cannot or will not drink anything
- Is urinating (pee) very little or a dark color.
- Is very sleepy or difficult to wake up
Go to the emergency room if:
- Your child will not wake up
- Has a bluish skin color
- Symptoms of the flu continue to worsen