Hey Loves! I hope everyone is having a great week. Flu season is here and I am getting a lot of questions from friends, family, and our FF subscribers about my thoughts on the flu shot. So today I will be dedicating my blog to everything you need to know about the flu. While it is very important to be educated on what the flu is, its symptoms, and how it is spread, I am going to take it a step further by discussing treatment and other tips to help you through the flu season. I see a lot of children in the emergency room suffering from the flu. Treating this illness as often as I do, I have picked up some tips and tricks to help parents with flu season! So let’s get started.
What is the flu? The flu, also know as influenza, is caused by a virus that infects the respiratory system. Unlike other viruses that cause cold like symptoms, the flu can cause severe illness and have life threatening complications. It is estimated that 5 to 20% of the United States’ population will suffer from the flu and over 200,000 people will be hospitalized due to complications from the flu.
When is flu season? Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. It typically peaks in the U.S. between December and February.
How is it spread? It is thought to be spread through respiratory droplets of an infected person. For example someone who has the flu sneezes, coughs, or talks and the droplets are released into the air. These droplets have the potential to infect someone that is within a close distance of the contagious individual.
When and how long is someone contagious? This is what makes the spread of the virus so difficult to control. An individual with the flu can infect other people starting one day before the symptoms begin and up until 5 to 7 days into their illness. It is thought that children might be able to infect people for an even longer period of time.
What are the symptoms?
Fever- Influenza has the potential to cause extremely high fever and it can last for 10 days. I have a lot of children come to the ER who have already been diagnosed with the flu, but require treatment for a fever that has lasted 7 days. If your child gets the flu, it is important to understand that high fever for long a long period of time can occur. If you are concerned, you should absolutely have your child re-evaluated.
Cough- One complications of the flu is pneumonia. If your child has the flu and is having difficulty breathing or has increased respiratory rate, bring them to their doctor to be evaluated.
Body aches/extreme fatigue
Vomiting and diarrhea- This is not as common but can absolutely occur with the flu.
What you need to know about the flu shot? Everybody asks me if I think they should have their child vaccinated against the flu. My answer is yes, but I think it is important to go over a few things beforehand.
- There are two different types of vaccines- one that is an injection and one that is a nasal spray. The nasal spray contains a live attenuated virus and there are restrictions on who can receive it. Your child has to be over the age of 2 and if your child has asthma or an allergy to eggs you must consult with your doctor.
- Children under the age of 6 months can not get the flu shot, however they have the highest risk of complications if they get sick with the flu. So if you have other children in the house that go to school, it is imperative you get them vaccinated to prevent them from giving it to your infant. In addition, research shows that infants get some protection from the flu if their mothers get a flu shot while they are pregnant.
- If your child has never gotten the flu shot before and is under the age of 9, they are going to need to receive two separate shots of the vaccine. If your child is over the age of two and is considered healthy, consider doing the nasal spray vaccine as it is less traumatic.
- If you going to go to your pediatrician to get the flu shot, call ahead and see if you can make a nursing appointment or make your appointment the first available appointment of the day. I can’t tell you how many children go to the doctor to get their flu shot and catch something else while they are waiting to be seen.
- Depending upon the vaccine you are giving, you are protected against 3 to 4 strains of the influenza virus. Therefore, although the vaccine lowers your chance of getting the virus and probably lessens the symptoms, it does not guarantee that you will not get the flu. If your child has gotten the flu shot, but still shows symptoms of the flu, have them evaluated by their pediatrician.
- The injection itself can cause a lot of tenderness to the area where the shot was given. You can lightly massage the area for an hour after the injection. It significantly decreases the pain to that area. Also, don’t be too alarmed, your child might experience mild flu like symptoms after receiving the vaccination.
I hope this helps you with your journey. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have. See you next Wednesday!