Flu Season Is Here What Should We Do?
The flu can result in a serious illness such as a bacterial infection including pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death. However, if we know exactly what the flu is, we can not only prevent it but we can also recover better even if we catch the flu.
How Do We Catch The Flu and How To Prevent It?
The flu is a virus so no antibiotics can help to cure it. It is spread through small droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk within six feet. Those droplets can land in the mouth or nose and cause illness. It is less common but your child can get sick by contact if he/she touches droplets and then touches their face or mouth.
Once the virus enters our body, it can stay dormant for up to four days. Therefore, good hand washing and covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing are always helpful to prevent spreading the flu. However, the most important way to prevent spreading the flu is to get vaccinated. Some parents worry that the vaccine might cause illness, but the flu vaccine does not make your child sick.
The flu vaccine can be given from age six months and older every season. There are numerous studies and data that have shown that flu vaccines significantly reduce the risk of children getting sick, being hospitalized, and dying from the flu.
What Is the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?
Common cold and flu viruses share similar symptoms such as cough, stuffy nose, and sore throat. In general, cold symptoms are milder and shorter than the flu. Flu typically starts abruptly, with high fever over 102, causing body aches, chills, fatigue, weakness, and headache. Every child is different but symptoms usually last for 5-7 days. The rapid flu test is a quick and easy test that can be done in the office to detect flu virus, but it is possible to have a false negative result. Thus, it is important to discuss with your provider symptoms and have him or her evaluate your child thoroughly for a diagnosis.
If your child is confirmed to have the flu, antiviral medicine (e.g. tamiflu) can be one option. This medicine does not kill the virus, but helps lessen the severity and shorten the duration of illness by one or two days. The CDC recommends antiviral medicines for young children under age five especially under two, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. If your child is in the high risk population, please discuss with your provider the benefits and possible side effects of the medicine. If your child is not in the high risk population, supportive care including rest, increased fluid intake, ibuprofen/acetaminophen for fever, and humidifier is what he or she needs to recover from the illness.
Now that you know more about the flu, you can fight this virus better. And remember that providers are always here ready to fight with you for your child throughout this flu season.