Protecting Your Family Against the Flu
It will not be long before seasonal influenza will hit our community. Esse Health has been offering flu clinics and flu shots to its patients; however, despite best efforts, there will still be large numbers of susceptible children and adults this flu season. Accordingly we feel it is important to educate our patients and the community about influenza and what they can do to help prevent the spread.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
- A sudden fever, possibly with chills and sweats
- Congestion and cough
Older children may additionally complain of:
- Sore throats
- Muscle aches and discomfort
- Although influenza is primary a respiratory illness, some patients might also experience diarrhea and vomiting.
How is influenza spread?
- Through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- By touching contaminated surfaces or objects like furniture and toys and then touching one’s nose or mouth
- By young children touching each other with hands that are contaminated with their own respiratory secretions
What can we do to reduce the spread of influenza?
- Make sure everyone washes their hands often
- Keep sick children at home and limit contact with others
- Keep your child home from school or child care until his or her fever is gone for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine. (Note- normal body temperature is different for each child and may range from 97°F to 100.3°F. Consider a temperature of 100.4°F or higher a fever.)
- Get yourself and your children immunized to protect against seasonal influenza.
Call your pediatrician if your child:
- Is younger than three months and has a fever
- Is sick with flu-like symptoms and has a serious chronic health condition, including lung or heart problems, asthma, diabetes, kidney problems, a weakened immune system, or a serious neurologic or neuromuscular condition
- Is more sleepy than usual or not acting normal
- Has little or no energy to play or keep up with daily activities
- Is not drinking enough fluids to make urine
- Has trouble breathing, is breathing fast, or has poor color (blue or gray)
- Is very irritable and cannot be comforted
How should you treat a child with suspected or confirmed influenza?
- For fever or body aches, we suggest acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Note- Never give your child aspirin because of the association between influenza, aspirin use and Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal disease of the liver.)
- Encourage fluids
- For patients who are at high risk of complications, antiviral medicines like Tamiflu may be necessary
For more information or questions about influenza, please contact your health care provider or visit http://www.essehealth.com.
By Dr. Richard Lazaroff, Esse Health Pediatrician
11630 Studt Avenue, Suite 200
Creve Coeur, MO 63141