It is peak flu season. To avoid spending this winter with a house full of runny noses, fevers, and miserable kids, head over to Pediatric Care Group to get your flu shots. We’ve compiled important information parents need to know about the flu virus and how to best prevent it.
What is the Flu?
The flu is a highly contagious viral infection that forms in the respiratory tract and affects the lungs, throat, and nose. All ages are susceptible to the flu, but the virus tends to affect children more than adults.
Common Cold vs. Flu
Although the flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it is important to note that there are differences. The onset of symptoms associated with the flu come on much faster than those that develop with a cold and tend to be more severe.
- Fever (although not everyone who has the flu will have a fever)
- Fatigue or extreme tiredness
- Muscle or body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- A sore throat and cough
How Can I Prevent the Flu?
Practice Good Hygiene
The flu is easily spread from person to person. In order to ensure your child remains healthy this flu season, you and your family should take the following precautions:
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid direct contact with someone who is sick with the flu
- Avoid direct contact with or disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by someone who has the flu (i.e. shopping carts, door handles…etc.)
- Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes
- Sanitize toys often
While it is important to practice these good hygiene tips year-round, they are especially relevant during flu season since the flu is so highly contagious. The flu can be passed on up to 1 day before a person starts showing any symptoms as well as 5-7 days after becoming sick. Children can be infectious for even longer.
Keep Sick Kids Home
If your child does come down with the flu, keep your child home from school or childcare to prevent spreading the illness to others.
Make Good Lifestyle Choices
Making good choices as a family can help keep your children healthy throughout the year, but can help ward off sickness during flu season.
Make sure your child’s diet contains lots of fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamins C and D to support a healthy immune system
Ensure they are getting daily outside time and regular exercise
Don’ allow them to share personal items such as toothbrushes, towels, or drinking glasses—even with other family members
Ensure children get adequate sleep (8-12 hours depending on age)
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about ways to boost their immune system with natural supplements such as Vitamin-C, Echinacea, Zinc, or Elderberry
The flu vaccine is hands-down the most effective way to avoid getting sick with the flu. Each year, millions of people avoid the flu because they were vaccinated. The CDC estimates that 5.3 million people who received the vaccination during the 2016-2017 flu season dodged the illness.
Anyone over 6 months of age can receive the annual flu vaccine. Since the flu vaccine is not approved for babies under 6 months, it is even more important for older children and adults in the home to receive it in order to prevent passing the flu to the baby.
Even though we are in the midst of peak flu season, flu vaccines are still available! If your child has not received a flu shot yet, now is the time to come into Pediatric Care Group and get them one.