The Flu: A Guide for Parents

It’s been all over the news recently about how serious this flu season has been across the US.  The CDC provides the following information as a guide for parents in the prevention of spreading the flu.

Influenza (also known as flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu is different from a cold, and usually comes on suddenly. Each year flu viruses cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospital stays and thousands or tens of thousands of deaths in the United States.

Flu can be very dangerous for children. CDC estimates that since 2010, between 7,000 and 26,000 children younger than 5 years have been hospitalized each year in the United States because of influenza. The flu vaccine is safe and helps protect children from flu.

What are flu symptoms?
Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny
or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, feeling tired,
and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). Some people with the flu will not have a fever.

What are some other ways I can protect my child against flu? 
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, you and your child should take everyday actions to help prevent the spread of germs.

Stay away from people who are sick as much as possible to keep from getting sick yourself. If you or your child are sick, avoid others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Also, remember to regularly cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and clean surfaces that may be contaminated with flu viruses. These everyday actions can help reduce your chances of getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others if you are sick. However, a yearly flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu illness.

What can I do if my child gets sick?
Talk to your doctor early if you are worried about your child’s illness. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids. If your child is 5 years and older without long-term health problems and gets flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed.

What if my child seems very sick? 
Even healthy children can get very sick from flu. If your child is experiencing the following emergency warning signs you should go to the emergency room:

Emergency warning signs of flu: 

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids (not going to the bathroom or not making as much urine as they normally do)
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with rash

How long can a sick person spread flu to others? 
People with flu may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to up to 5 to 7 days after. Severely ill people or young children may be able to spread the flu longer, especially if they still have symptoms.

Can my child go to school, day care, or camp if he or she is sick?
No. Your child should stay home to rest and to avoid giving the flu to other children or caregivers.

When can my child go back to school after having the flu?
Keep your child home from school, day care, or camp for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. (The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) A fever is defined as 100°F (37.8°C) or higher.

To download a copy of this CDC guide with complete information, please click here.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu or call 800-CDC-INFO

 

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