Monday, January 7, 2013

The Flu is here!

We have been seeing the FLU in our office and wanted to give you more information about influenza. The influenza (flu) virus causes serious illness that may result in hospitalization or death. It mostly affects the breathing system, but may also affect the whole body. The flu season usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring. Talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated at the start of the season (late summer/early fall) so that you are protected year-round. (We do have some flu vaccine left-please call our office to schedule an appt with a nurse to get your flu vaccine)

People can get the flu more than once per year and many times in their lives. Influenza viruses are unpredictable. They are always changing over time and from year to year.

Signs of the flu

All flu viruses cause a respiratory illness that can last a week or more. Flu symptoms include:
  • A sudden fever (usually above 101°F or 38.3°C)
  • Chills and body shakes
  • Headache, body aches, and being a lot more tired than usual
  • Sore throat
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Stuffy, runny nose
Some children may throw up (vomit) and have loose stools (diarrhea). Talk with your child's doctor if your child has ear pain, a cough that won't go away, or a fever that won't go away. There can be serious complications, even death, from the flu, but these are uncommon.

How to prevent the flu- Tips from the AAP

-Get the flu vaccine every year

-Keep flu germs from spreading

The flu virus spreads easily through the air with coughing and sneezing, and through touching things like doorknobs or toys and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Here are some tips that will help protect your family from getting sick:

  • Everyone should wash their hands often. You can use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. That is about as long as singing the "Happy Birthday" song 2 times. And an alcohol-based hand cleanser or sanitizer works well too. Put enough on your hands to make them all wet, then rub them together until dry.
  • Teach your child to cover his mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Show your child how to cough into the elbow or upper sleeve (not a hand) or use a tissue.
  • Throw all tissues used for runny noses and sneezes in the trash right away.
  • Wash dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher.
  • Don't let children share pacifiers, cups, spoons, forks, washcloths, or towels without washing. Never share toothbrushes.
  • Teach your child to try not to touch her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Wash doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops, and even toys. Use a disinfectant wipe or a cloth with soap and hot water. (A disinfectant is a cleaner that kills germs.)

What if my child gets the flu?

Call the doctor right away if your child shows any signs of the flu and:

  • Is 3 months or younger and has a fever
  • Has fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Looks very sick
  • Is more sleepy than usual
  • Is very fussy no matter what you do
  • Cannot or will not drink anything
  • Urinates (pees) very little

You should also call the doctor if your child shows signs of the flu and has a chronic medical condition, like:

  • Asthma, diabetes, or heart problems
  • Sickle cell disease, cancer, HIV, or another disease that makes it hard to fight infections
  • Cerebral palsy or other neurologic disorders of the brain and muscles that make it harder to cough up mucus and breathe
  • Morbid obesity (being very overweight)

Go to the emergency department right away if your child:

  • Has signs of the flu that keep getting worse
  • Has blue skin color
  • Will not wake up at all

Help your child feel better

Extra rest and a lot of fluids can help your child feel better. You can also give your child medicine to bring down the fever.
  • For a baby 6 months or younger, give acetaminophen. Tylenol is one brand of acetaminophen.
  • For a child older than 6 months, give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Advil and Motrin are brands of ibuprofen.
  • Never give any child aspirin. Aspirin puts the child at risk for Reye syndrome, a serious illness that affects the liver and brain.

Keep your child home

Keep your child home from school or child care when she has a fever and other signs of the flu. Your child needs rest. Also, your child can give the flu to other children.

When can my child go back to school or child care?

Your child should stay home at least 24 hours after his fever is gone. Start counting time after you stop giving your child fever medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. A temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is a sign of fever. Check with your child's school or child care center to find out its rules about children staying home when they are ill.

--Tips from the

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