Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Flu season is coming up again. The flu, a viral infection that causes fever, chills, cough, body aches, headaches, loss of appetite, tiredness, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and can sometimes cause earaches or sinus problems, can last for up to two weeks. Certain people, such as babies under 2 years of age, adults older than 65 and children or adults that have health problems (such as diabetes or asthma) may have stronger symptoms. Flu shots are available for people that may get really sick from the flu.
The flu normally occurs in small outbreaks, but can sometimes spread rapidly and affect many people within a very short period of time. Healthy adults and children aren’t at as great a risk of getting very sick from the virus, but flu vaccines are often available for those that want to prevent catching the flu. The vaccines are given in the fall before flu season starts. Flu vaccines either prevent a person from getting the flu or they make the symptoms of the flu milder so that the person gets better more easily.
Flu vaccines should be updated every year because the flu virus changes every year and the vaccines given are formulated to fight the particular strain of virus that is going to be a problem that year. They are normally offered each year between September and mid-November. The vaccine reduces a person’s chance of catching the flu by about 80%, but is not a guarantee that your family will not get sick during flu season.
The flu is spread through droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or laughs. You can catch it when you breathe in these droplets or get them on your hands when you touch your mouth or nose.
Because the flu is a viral infection, antibiotics will not work. Steps you can take to help your child feel better while he or she has the flu include:
Having him or her lie down, rest and sleep as much as possible.
Providing lots of liquids, including water, juices or broth
Giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever, aches and pains.
Dress your child in layers because he or she may feel chilly one minute and hot the next
Wash your hands often when caring for a sick child and make sure that your child washes his or her hands often as well
It’s important to treat the flu seriously because it can lead to complications such as pneumonia, but your child should feel better in about a week. If he or she has difficulty breathing, extremely sore muscles or is dizzy or confused, call your pediatrician immediately.