Signs, Symptoms, Prevention: The Flu Epidemic and Your Child
The flu season is here and it came with a vengeance. According to abc.com, 63 children have already succumbed to the virus. Reports from the Center for Disease Control have stated that nearly 17,101 persons have been diagnosed as having laboratory-confirmed influenza associated with hospitalizations. This has caused the CDC to declare a flu epidemic across the nation with certain states such as New York, California, Arizona, Virginia and North Carolina just to name a few, having widespread activity. That is why, this flu season is on track to be one of the worst in almost a decade. The most susceptible to the flu virus are those who are vulnerable to complications. Children and adults over 65 years of age tend to fall into that category, but for the purpose of this blog post we will focus on how to protect your children from this deadly virus, what are the signs and symptoms that you as a parent can look out for and how to help minimize infection.
First off, the flu can be easily misdiagnosed for the common cold, that's because a lot of the symptoms are the same. So how do you know whether your child has the flu or just the common cold? According to WedMD, cold symptoms usually last a week and can include sore throat or runny nose. If your symptoms last more than a week then it is possible you may have hay fever (allergy) or a sinus infection. Flu symptoms on the other hand, are usually much more severe and can include sore throat, headache, body aches and pains, vomiting, fever and even diarrhea. Persons with the flu tend to be sick for more than a week and can feel run down for even more. Particular complications of the flu are pneumonia and heart and lung problems.
If your child is sick and you may think he or she has the flu, there are some signs that you can look out for.
A fever that starts suddenly (a temperature equal to or greater than 38 degrees Celsius)
Body aches or pains
Dry cough which may become moist
Low energy or fatigue
Chills or shivering
Runny or stuffy nose
Though the above flu symptoms are typical and your child may experience all or a few symptoms, there have been reports that having the flu could show other symptoms none of which are stated above. One San Francisco mom stated that when her son came home from school with a rash above his elbow that would not go away, her trip to the pediatrician showed he tested positive for Influenza B. She reported that he did not exhibit or experience any cold symptoms at all only the hives. So, although there may be no symptoms at all, here are some of the signs to look out for that should signal a need to see a doctor or a visit to the ER.
persistently high fevers
a feeling of good health and then a return of symptoms
sweats or chills
a blue or grey skin color
intense or persistent vomiting
trouble drinking enough fluids
a decrease in appetite
symptoms that initially improve but then get worse
difficulty responding or interacting
Despite the very contagious nature of the flu, there are steps you can take to minimize infection.
Wash your hands regularly
Ensure that the entire family has had their flu shots
Give your children daily vitamin C to help build up his or her immunity
Wash your children’s hands as soon as they come from school or daycare. It is a good idea to also remove all their clothing so they can be washed before having them eat or roam the home.
As the media continues to predict the worsening of this epidemic, it is very important that we spread awareness of the flu and be vigilant in our homes with practices that can mitigate the spread of the virus.
Be Well Mamas!