|The Flu: A Guide for Parents
What is the flu and how serious is it?
Influenza (flu) is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs, caused by the influenza virus. Influenza is NOT the stomach flu. The influenza season will soon be upon us. Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While the flu can be serious in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long term health conditions.
What are the symptoms of the flu and how is it spread?
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. People with the flu may infect others 1 day before showing symptoms to 5-7 days after.
How can I protect my child against the flu?
To protect against the flu, the first and most important thing you can do is to get a flu vaccine for yourself and your child. Vaccination is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age. It’s especially important that young children and children with long term health condition and parents of infants get vaccinated. You must receive the flu vaccine every year to be protected. In addition to getting vaccinated, take-and encourage your child to take-everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of germs. This includes: cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue; stay away from people who are sick; wash hands often with soap and water; and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
What can I do if my child gets sick?
Talk to your doctor early if you are worried about your child’s illness. If your child is 5 years and older and does not have other health problems and gets flu-like symptoms, including a fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed and make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids. If your child is younger than 5 years (and especially younger than 2 years), or of any age with long term health conditions, they are at risk for serious complications from the flu. Consult your doctor if your child should be examined. If your child has these symptoms, they must stay home from school and other activities until the fever has diminished for 24 hours without taking medication and they are able to fully participate in activities.
When to seek emergency treatment?
Even children who have always been healthy before or had the flu before can get very sick from the flu. Call for emergency care of take your child to a doctor right away if your child of any age has any of the following signs: Fast breathing or trouble breathing; bluish or gray skin color; not drinking enough fluids; not waking up or interacting; or being so irritable that the child does not want to be held.
Adapted from the CDC. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu
We will be hosting a flu vaccination clinic on September 25 from 3-4:30 at the elementary school. If you are interested in attending, please contact the elementary office.