St. Anthony Pediatrician Gives Tips on Treating and Preventing the Flu
What comes with the most wonderful time of year? Flu season. Yes, among the brightly decorated houses, beautifully wrapped presents, and delicious treats, flu season lurks in the shadows of every holiday season.
According to Dr. Brittany Daniels, St. Anthony Pediatrician, the flu can be packaged in various symptoms. “Many signs of the flu can mimic other viruses. Children will typically have fevers and chills, cough, sore throat, fatigue, generalized muscle aches, headache, and congestion. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate the flu from another virus. However, the flu can sometimes lead to pneumonia, seizures, or diarrhea in children.”
If you suspect your child has the flu, you should take them to see their pediatrician in the first 48 hours. “If the flu is diagnosed in this time range, Tamiflu, an antiviral agent, can be prescribed and can sometimes shorten the course of the flu illness,” commented Dr. Daniels. “Supportive care is also important for taking care of a child with the flu at home. The general rule is to stay home from school until fever free for greater than 24 hours. It’s helpful to give them Motrin or Tylenol to help reduce fever, and also make sure they are receiving plenty of fluids so the child does not get dehydrated.”
If you’re looking for the best medicine when it comes to the flu, your best option is prevention. “The flu vaccine helps prevent you from getting the flu. If you do get the flu and have had a flu shot, it can make it less severe and can keep you from spreading it to other family members, for example children under 6 months who are unable to get the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Daniels.
The flu is much more dangerous if you are an infant, young child, or in the elderly population. These are the groups of people that have the most complications from the flu such as pneumonia, and are more likely to be hospitalized. “The earliest a child can receive the flu shot is 6 months of age. It’s important for them to have the flu shot at this age, because a young infant can have the most complications if the flu is contracted,” she added.
Each year researchers study which strains of flu will be prevalent for that year and “match” the flu vaccine to those types. “The flu shot contains a very small amount of flu antigen. When you get the flu vaccine, your body recognizes the flu virus or antigen as a foreign trespasser and will produce antibodies to it. The next time your body encounters the flu virus it will remember, and will guard against the virus,” said Dr. Daniels.
Along with the flu vaccine, prevention consists of good habits. “Preventing the flu is just like preventing any viral illness,” said Dr. Daniels. “Good hand washing, not sharing food or drink, and keeping your daily environment clean will help.”