Guide to the Flu
Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection that primarily affects the respiratory system. It is caused by influenza viruses, is highly contagious, and it can spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Each year the influenza virus evolves, making it difficult to prevent long-term. Therefore, it is recommended that you and your child get a flu vaccine each year during flu season near the beginning of fall.
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Flu Season and Immunization
The flu season can start in October and last until May, but the bulk of flu cases happen between December through February. It is important to stay up-to-date in your area, as flu outbreaks happen at a local level. Call Delaware Pediatrics and ask when the peak flu season is in your area.
Make sure to schedule an appointment to get a flu shot as soon as the vaccination becomes available. Your child can get a flu shot at Delaware Pediatrics in Buffalo, NY as well as most pharmacies and even school health centers. We have limited times available, so please call our office to schedule an appointment at 716-884-0230.
There are two types of influenza vaccines available for children; the first being in a shot form, and the second being in the form of a nasal spray. Both forms protect against the four influenza viruses, two A and two B viruses. As of 2016, Delaware Pediatrics NO longer offers the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray.
Even if a person gets the vaccine, they may still get the flu virus, but a flu shot is the best preventative measure a person can take.
What Are Flu Symptoms in Children?
The flu is characterized by symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes respiratory congestion. Some children may throw up (vomit) and have loose stools (diarrhea). Even though the symptoms are similar to the common cold, they can become severe enough to lead to other illnesses and even cause death.
Influenza can range in severity from mild to severe and can lead to complications, especially in vulnerable populations including young children and those with weakened immune systems.
It’s important to note the flu is highly contagious. During the first couple days, it easily spreads to other children, family members, and those around them. During periods of outbreak, typically occurring in winter, the illness tends to be more prevalent among preschool and school-aged children. College students and teenagers are also recognized as groups in which flu viruses can rapidly spread.
How Can I Protect My Family From the Flu?
There are a number of measures that the CDC recommends that you and your child should take to avoid getting and spreading the flu. These include:
- Avoid close contact. Especially contact with those who are sick. When you are sick you should also avoid contact with others.
- Stay home when you are sick. Not only will this help prevent the spread of germs, but it will ensure that you don’t overexert yourself if you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Sneezing and coughing are the easiest ways for viruses to spread. Cover your mouth if you are sick.
- Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often, not just when you use the restroom. You pick up a lot of germs on your hands throughout the day, and if you’re out in public during flu season, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up the flu.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Even if you keep your hands clean, viruses easily enter the body through the orifices on your face.
- Practice good health habits. Make sure to disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot. For example, wipe down a shopping cart handle with a wipe before using. Additionally, make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food and drink a lot of fluids.
Make sure you teach these good habits to your child so when they are not by your side, they will help prevent the flu from spreading.
Flu Treatment in Buffalo, NY
Luckily, the flu for the most part is self-treatable. Eventually, it will pass with plenty of rest, drinking a lot of fluids and medication. Your body will fight the infection on its own.
Typically, a doctor will prescribe you or your child Tamiflu, Relenza or Peramivir injection if diagnosed with the flu. Call Delaware Pediatrics for questions about over-the-counter medication to relieve flu symptoms.
When Is the Flu an Emergency in Children?
If your child with the flu develops any of the following signs, contact our office or seek immediate medical care.
- Trouble breathing or abnormal rapid breathing
- Bluish face or lips
- Ribs appear to pull in with each breath
- Chest pain
- Severe muscle pain
- Dehydration (no urination for 8 hours, dry mouth, and crying without tear production)
- When your child is awake, he or she is not alert or interacting with you
- Fever above 104°F, and any fever for infants less than 12 weeks
- Fever/cough that seems to get better then return or worsen
- Worsening chronic medical conditions, such as asthma
Schedule An Appointment Today
We recommend that you and your child get a flu vaccine each year during flu season near the beginning of fall. Call our pediatric clinic at (716) 884-0230