The Flu is Here

Yes, the flu is here. And by here, I mean right here in my home. Not just in my home…in me.

I type this through a dripping, yet congested nose (lovely combination), muscle aches, and a fever that keeps trying to hold me down. No, I’m not looking for more sympathy…okay, maybe a little. However, since I am living and breathing the flu right now, what better topic to tackle today for Ask Dr.Mom.

Back in December when I wrote a small health blurb for Sacramento Parent Magazine, Flu Got You Blue?, the flu seemed a distant entity. A hypothetical occurrence that may or may not affect you and your family. Well, hypothetical no more. It has hit us and I have seen a spike of cases in clinic within the last two weeks as well.

One of the most common questions I get regarding the flu is: how do I know if it’s the flu? My short answer is…oh, you’ll know. However, with your children, it isn’t always so cut and dry, especially since they can only convey so much about how they are feeling.

Here are some flu facts to help you recognize, prevent, and treat it should your own child become ill.

What causes the flu? The flu is caused by the influenza virus and its various strains. 2009 saw the emergence of a new strain, the H1N1. These influenza viruses cause the respiratory illness known as the flu.

Signs and symptoms of the flu:

• Sudden onset of a high fever, usually over 101 F

• Profound muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches.

• Sore throat and a dry cough

• Nasal congestion or runny nose.

• Children may also experience nausea, decreased appetite, and possibly some vomiting and diarrhea.

Prevention:

• Hand washing. Encourage your child to wash her hands several times throughout the day. After using the bathroom, before eating, after playing on the playground, etc. This is especially important when they are living with someone who is currently spreading her germs all about (me).

• Use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not available.

• Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, exercise, and a well balanced diet to keep his immune system in tip top shape.

• Get your child vaccinated against the flu. This year the seasonal flu shot will include coverage of the H1N1 strain as well as two other most common influenza strains. Ahem…yeah, I got vaccinated. What can you do? There are no guarantees.

Treatment:

• Keep your child home from school, make sure he gets plenty of rest, give him a fever reducer such as acetaminophen, and make sure he stays well hydrated.

• Stay on top of your child’s hydration by offering clear liquids such as water or diluted juice frequently throughout the day. Fever combined with a decreased appetite can lend itself to dehydration. Remain vigilant about hydration.

• Antibiotics do not help since the flu is caused by a virus.

• Keep an eye out for possible complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, or dehydration. If your child suddenly spikes a fever on day 7 of the flu, after the initial fever has subsided, have her evaluated for possible secondary infection.

• Whenever in doubt, seek medical attention for your child.

For more information on this year’s seasonal flu visit http://www.cdc.gov/

Has the flu hit your home? How are you coping?

Every Wednesday I will be answering a question from You! Please submit your parenting or health related question to mommamd4two(at)aol(dot)com. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and featuring your question

8 Responses to The Flu is Here
  1. Miel Abeille
    February 16, 2011 | 2:00 am

    Feel better! I somehow manage to avoid the flu. Fingers crossed I make it through another season unaffected.

  2. Making It Work Mom
    February 16, 2011 | 4:37 am

    I hope you feel better soon! So far no flu- we have actually been pretty healthy here. My 11 year old is sick, I think it is Strep, since that is what she always gets. But you are right it is so hard to know with children because even though she is 11 she still likes to power through things and pretend she is not sick!
    Get some rest.

  3. JDaniel4's Mom
    February 16, 2011 | 1:42 pm

    It is all over Greenville. I went to teacher's social gathering and only half of the ladies were there. The others were sick.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  4. Lexie Loo & Dylan Too
    February 16, 2011 | 2:29 pm

    I hope you feel better soon! My kids have surprisingly strong immune systems and rarely get sick. I, however, get sick every few months!

  5. Cheryl D.
    February 16, 2011 | 10:32 pm

    The flu is running rampant here, and it's causing kids to run really high fevers! When my daughter was sick a couple of weeks ago, I initially assumed it was the flu, but had her check out, just in case. Good thing I did, because she had strep throat and was doing great by the next day (those antibiotics kick in fast).

    Feel better!

  6. Rachael
    February 17, 2011 | 2:05 pm

    Yuck! I hope you feel better very soon!

  7. Mrs.Mayhem
    February 17, 2011 | 2:10 pm

    The flu is going around my daughters' school right now. I'm just waiting for (and dreading) our turn.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  8. Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop!
    February 20, 2011 | 4:50 pm

    We are on day 3 of a yucky virus. I just came back to check this again. He tested negative for the flu on Friday but I was starting to wonder if I'd tested him too soon (is there such a thing?). Fever has hovered around 100, though, so it is most likely just one of the other lovely viruses traveling through the school.

    Thank you for posting these helpful pieces in addition to your other lovely posts!

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