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What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
  • about 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults

 

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

 


What To Do When Your Child Has The Flu

When a child has the flu the first two to three days are the worst for them. Most parents usually treat a child with antibiotics however, according to the CDC (Center of Disease Control) informs us that antibiotics are ineffective against the flu. Since the flu attacks the immune and respiratory systems the best treatment is plenty of good old rest. Children are naturally active; they have the need to be constantly which is not good because the immune system gets hammered by the flu. The body needs time to fight off the viruses and the best defense a child can offer is a change for their bodies to strengthen again.

Liquids, not soda but water and orange juice consumption are strongly recommended especially in the first two to three days. The body is made up of over seventy percent water so it is only natural to keep that liquid consistently flowing through your child's' body since your child will lose a lot due to sneezing and perspiring. The citrus in orange juice assists the immune system in rebuilding itself and making it stronger. Daily consumption of orange juice can reduce the number of time your child gets sick throughout the year. Statistically a child, age 5 and under, catches the flu or a cold about two to three times a year. Pure orange juice, not concentrate is the most effective.

One of the major symptoms of the flu is fever. When I was a child with the flu my mother rarely used medicine like cough syrup etc. Instead as we slept and rested she kept us fully dressed. Long johns, sweat pants, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and under a heavy blanket. The objective is to sweat the fever out of the child's system. It may be uncomfortable for the first couple of hours but your child will get use to it. Every three to four hours reduce with layers of clothing for twenty to thirty minutes and as your child sleep be sure your child is keep warm and check regularly to ensure your child is perspiring consistently.

So taking care of your child when they have the flu really isn't that hard or time consuming. The key things to remember are that your child has to stay comfortable when they rest and plenty of rest is needed. The liquid intake has to be doubled from regular intake when your child is healthy. Most parents opt to give their child ginger ale, which sooths the stomach but will prove to be obsolete when fighting the flu. Water, tap or bottled and pure orange juices are the best liquids to take and have your child take them frequently. When your child has the flu be sure you are watching for any sign of the flu advancing. If you don't see any changes for the worst continue with sweating the flu out, rest and liquid consumption, but if the sickness gets worse contact your physician.

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Who Should Get Vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

  • Children aged 6–59 months of age,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People 50 years of age and older,
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

2. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  • Health care workers.

3. Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of influenza.

 

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