7 Things You Should Know About the Flu and the Flu Vaccine
It’s that time of the year again when the flu season is back in full swing. A recent CDC Health advisory report indicated influenza activity has increased significantly over recent weeks in the United States. With an increase in flu patients at our clinics, we wanted to share with you some of our top tips to help avoid the flu, or in the event that you or your little one catches the bug, to get over the flu more quickly. Here are our seven (7) flu tips to keep in mind this flu season:
Look for Symptoms
After you have been exposed to the flu, it usually takes between 2-4 days for the symptoms to kick in. Typical flu symptoms in kids include a high-grade fever up to 104 degrees F, aching muscles, sore throat, tiredness, and a dry cough.
Bring in Your Child If:
- Your child is 3 months of age or younger and has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
- Your child is finding it hard to breathe
- Wheezing develops
- His or her fever lasts longer than 3 days
- If he or she has an extremely high fever
Be Aware of Risk Conditions
If your child has or lives with someone with any of the chronic underlying medical or other high-risk conditions listed below please have them visit us or their pediatric physician for testing.
- Children younger than 2 years (although all children younger than 5 years are considered at higher risk for complications from influenza, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years)
- Lives with adults aged 65 years and older
- Persons with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension alone), hematological (including sickle cell disease), and metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus), or neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy [seizure disorders], stroke, intellectual disability [mental retardation], moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury)
- People with immunosuppression, including that caused by medications or by HIV infection
- Women who are pregnant or postpartum (within 2 weeks after delivery)
- People younger than 19 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
Watch for Other Severe Health Complications
If your son or daughter gets the flu please be mindful that other symptoms may arise. Children who are considered high risk (as listed above) have an increased risk of other complications. Although infrequent, healthy kids can develop rapidly progressive secondary bacterial infection due to Staphylococcus or Streptococcus. These superinfections can progress rapidly to shock, respiratory failure and death. Our doctors recommend early and close follow-up with your PCP if “things don’t look right”. At Night Lite Pediatrics we do complete blood counts, chest x-ray and blood cultures to check for complications of influenza if deemed necessary. We also can give intravenous fluids and intravenous antibiotics if needed for secondary infections.
Take Preventive Measures
Here at Night Lite Pediatrics, we love treating your little ones and restoring them to their fun-loving selves, but we also emphasize keeping up with preventive methods. So, it’s no surprise that we would recommend getting the flu shot. Now, I know some of you may be thinking, “Doesn’t the flu shot give me the flu?” No, the flu vaccine is made from an inactivated virus, that does not transmit the infection. Do keep in mind, however, that getting the flu shot does not guarantee that you will not get the flu. Instead it reduces your chances of catching the bug by 60% and is 30-35%effective. Other great preventive methods are to carry around a hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes, at all times, to disinfect your hands and surfaces throughout the day. Also, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet (which includes vitamin intake) and an active lifestyle are essential.
Get a Flu Shot (Even if You Have a Cold)
Our doctors recommend delaying the flu shot if you or your little one has a fever. If the symptoms only include a cold or any other mild illness (respiratory or otherwise), you can get the flu vaccine. Please note that because there are different strains of the flu, you can contract the flu more than once. While we do not offer flu vaccines at any of our Night Lite Pediatrics clinics, you can make an appointment to get your son or daughter vaccinated at your local pediatric physician, CVS or Walgreens.
Avoid Schools and Daycares
Germs can easily spread in school or at daycare. If your child comes down with the flu, we suggest that you keep your child home until he or she is fever-free for at least 24 hours, without the assistance of an antipyretic (Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen). This may take 5-7 days. Little ones getting sick and coming down with the flu can be hard for any parent. In the event that they come down with the flu this season, Night Lite Pediatrics performs special flu testing using an up- to -date Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Test (RIDT) with analyzer. This test will be able to detect influenza A and B viruses in respiratory specimens in 10-15 minutes with moderate sensitivity. With 10 locations throughout Central Florida that are open from 4pm-midnight during the weekdays and 12pm-midnight on the weekends. Night Lite Pediatrics is here to get your child back to their healthy, fun-loving selves quickly.