I really love this time of year. When the blistering temps finally transform into cool, crisp mornings followed by chilly nights and time spent fireside with the family. Sounds cozy, right?
Unfortunately, this welcome change of season also heralds the onset of flu season. Clinics start bursting at the seams and classrooms inevitably witness the empty desks of a few flu-stricken students.
- October through May is the typical flu season.
- It's caused by different influenza viruses and can affect the whole body, though the respiratory system is hit the hardest.
- This year, three main influenza viruses are predicted to cause the majority of flu cases. These three viral types (H1N1, H3N2, and an influenza B) have been included in the seasonal flu vaccine.
- Illness can range from mild to severe with potentially serious complications, including death.
- High fever (usually over 101 F), seemingly out of nowhere. Typically accompanied by chills.
- Body aches, headache, extreme fatigue.
- Dry, hacking cough and sore throat.
- Runny nose and congestion (though mild in comparison to the above symptoms).
- Vomiting and diarrhea may occur as well.
- The big 3: Rest, hydration and pain control.
- Offer your child frequent amounts of clear liquids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
- Encourage rest as much as possible. (Yes, it's okay to have a lounge on the couch with books and some favorite TV shows for the day.)
- Use the appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for body aches and/or high fevers.
- Antiviral medications may be an option for children at risk for serious complications -- such as those with severe asthma, diabetes or sickle cell disease.
- Now's the time to get vaccinated.
- The CDC recommends routine flu shots for everyone over 6 months of age.
- Flu mist is available for all healthy children ages 2 and older.
- Keep up that vigilant hand washing during flu season, encourage children to cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbows, and keep ill children home from school.
- Sleep well (at least 10 hours per night for school-age children), eat right (veggies and fruit are a must), and exercise daily (60 minutes a day for kids) to keep those immune systems in tip top shape.
Most asked questions, answered
- The flu vaccine for each season typically confers protection for 6-12 months after vaccination.
- It takes 2 weeks after getting the flu vaccine for it to take hold.
- While you can get some soreness and fatigue following your flu vaccine, the vaccine itself does not give you the flu.
Dr. Mom's Bottom Line^ Flu season is upon us. Bolster your child's immune system with great sleep, good eats, and plenty of exercise. My family will also be heading out this week to get our flu vaccines, will yours?