Simple steps to prevent and treat the flu
09-13-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The American Academy of Pediatrics along with the experts at Dayton Children’s strongly recommend that anyone age 6 months or older have the flu vaccine.
According to the CDC, each year in the United States more than 200,000 people, on average, are hospitalized from flu complications. Twenty thousand of those hospitalized are children younger than 5 years old.
“While the flu is not often difficult to treat, it is best to prevent it entirely,” says Sherman Alter, MD, medical director of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s. Dr. Alter offers these tips for preventing and treating the flu.
Flu Prevention – Stop it before it stops you
- Visit your local pharmacy or family doctor to get the flu vaccine.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are okay as an alternative.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
- Keep sick children at home including out of school or day care until they are better—usually seven days after the illness starts is adequate.
- Eat healthy and find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Recognizing the Flu – Common symptoms
- Rapid onset of fever
- Body aches
- Chills and fatigue
- Sometime vomiting and diarrhea
If your child has any of the following symptoms, they should be taken to the Emergency Department:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting (not responding to your voice or making eye contact)
- Being so irritable (cranky) that he or she does not want to be held
- Not urinating (peeing) or no tears when crying
- Symptoms improve, but soon return with worse cough and fever
“Since the flu is a virus, it cannot and should not be treated with anantibiotic. Viruses can really take a toll on an individual’s immune system, so letting a child’s body catch up on rest and re-hydrate is one of the best things you can do” says Navjyot K. Vidwan, MD pediatric infectious disease physician at Dayton Children’s.
Treating the Flu – Simple tips
- Offer plenty of fluids. Fever, which can be associated with the flu, can lead to dehydration.
- If your child is tired of drinking plain water, try ice pops, icy drinks mixed in a blender, and soft fruits (like melons or grapes) to maintain hydration.
- Encourage your child to rest in bed or on the couch.
- Helped with a supply of magazines, books, quiet music, or a favorite movie.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and pains. Do not give aspirinunless your doctor directs you to do so.
- Dress your child in layers so you can add and remove layers during bouts of chills or fever.
- Wash your handsthoroughly and often, especially after picking up used tissues.
- Take care of yourself and the other people in your family! If you haven't done so, ask your doctor whether you (and other family members) should get a flu shot.
- Ask a close relative or faraway friend to call and help lift your child's spirits.
Is it a cold or a flu? Who should get the flu shot? How do I treat the flu? Find out the answers to these questions and more in our flu center.
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