Flu season is in full swing. How can you protect your family from the illness, and what should you do if your child gets sick?
Published: December 31, 2018
By: Courtesy of Children’s of Alabama
Delphene Noland, manager of infection prevention and control at Children’s of Alabama, recommends getting the flu shot every year. “It’s good for the entire season. We know the flu is most prevalent through the fall and winter,” Noland adds. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Influenza, or “the flu,” is a very contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. The flu can often have some of the same symptoms as the common cold, but more severe.
Identifying the Flu
- Flu feels worse than a cold
- Higher fever
- Body aches
- May have diarrhea or vomiting
Treating the Flu
- Get plenty of sleep and stay home
- Drink lots of liquids to prevent dehydration
- Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve fever and aches
Noland says it is extremely important to stay hydrated during the flu. “Most flu deaths are related to complications of the flu, not necessarily the flu itself – for instance, things like dehydration and pneumonia,” she says. “If they’re not eating and drinking, if babies are not having wet diapers, those are hallmarks that you may need to seek medical attention.”
The flu is easily spread, but there are ways to prevent it. “Hand washing is the number one thing you can do to prevent any viruses including the flu,” Noland says. She encourages parents to teach their children to wash their hands often, including throughout the day when they are at school. “There’s no such thing as too much hand washing,” she adds.
Because the flu is so contagious, it’s important to keep your child home when they are sick until they are fever free for at least 24 hours. The flu usually lasts about a week.