Flu facts and keeping your family well

Sick ChildNo doubt you’ve been hearing lots about the flu this week. And with good reason. The CDC tracks flu activity every year and this year they are reporting higher than normal flu cases across the U.S., with 47 states being hit pretty hard. It has peaked ealier than normal and this could be worrisome if cases continue along this trend.

Here in California we are just now seeing more and more flu cases. Across the country, there have been 20 deaths among children and few of them had no known underlying medical problems. So it’s likely to get worse in our neck of the woods. Parents have lots and lots of questions about the flu right now and want to know how they can protect their family and if they should be worried.

So arm youself with these flu facts and do your best to keep the flu at bay.

Flu Fact #1

The “stomach flu” and the actual flu are two different infections caused by different viruses. The stomach flu aka gastroenteritis is not caused by the same virus(es) that cause the seasonal flu. Both are running rampant right now.

Stay home if you’re sick. Drink plenty of fluids. Get your flu shot if you can…there’s still time and this year is an excellent match to the influenza viruses (Type A H3A2, H1N1, and Type B) causing most cases of the flu right now.

Flu Fact#2

Antibiotics do not help since the flu is caused by viruses (Influenza viral strains). Prevention is key.

Get your zzz’s, exercise, eat well, wash your hands frequently, cough/sneeze into elbow, stay home if you’re sick, and if you’ve been waiting to get your flu vaccine don’t wait any longer since it takes 2 weeks to develop immunity.

Flu Fact #3

The flu typically looks something like this…sudden onset of high fever (104 to 105F in some cases), chills, body aches, extreme fatigue, headache; followed by sore throat/congestion/cough.

May or may not have vomiting and/or diarrhea. Definitely have decreased appetite.

Flu Fact #4

If you or your child does come down with the flu…stay home, drink plenty of fluids then drink some more, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for body aches and high fevers (over 102F), use a cool mist humidifier for stuffy noses/sore throats/coughs.

Rest

Ask your doctor about an antiviral (Tamiflu) if you or your child are at high risk for flu complications (asthma, diabetes, sickle cell, etc)

Flu Fact #5

The flu vaccine does not actually give you the flu. Some people feel a bit achy or have mild runny nose after the vaccine but that’s a sign you are developing immunity to the virus. Most people don’t have any symptoms after the flu vaccine. Remember it takes at least 2 weeks to develop immunity so the potential of being exposed during that time and coming down with the flu is possible.

Most of all,  keep in mind that though we are seeing very high numbers of flu cases across the country, most healthy children and adults will recover within one week. Children less than 5 years old, adults 65 years and older, and anyone with significant medical health issues are most at risk for complications of the flu such as pneumonia or other opportunistic infections.

What question do you have about the flu and your family?

More Flu Resources:

CDC Flu Tracking

Flu Tips for parents from AAP

Is it a cold or the flu?

Your flu vaccine questions, answered

Video: Fighting the flu

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One Response to Flu facts and keeping your family well
  1. Lauren @ the VEC
    January 14, 2013 | 11:43 am

    The Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a variety of resources related to influenza and influenza vaccines. Check them out at http://vaccine.chop.edu or http://vaccine.chop.edu/parents.

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