Treating Your Child’s Influenza – What You Should Know

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 08:47 pm

Sick little boy doctor visitThe best treatment for Influenza is preventing its occurrence and first on the list is proper immunization for your child and the entire family.  This should be redone every year as the strains of Flu can change from season to season, and last year’s Flu vaccine may not be protective this year.  The vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months – and if there is an infant in the home it becomes even more important for the entire family to be immunized.  No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing an illness and Flu vaccine is no exception.  So, even if you have received the vaccine (and especially if you have not), common sense dictates certain additional procedures you can do to limit exposure during the Flu season which can be anywhere from September to April. These include:

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing rubbing hands together with soap and doing this the length of time it would take to sing the “happy birthday” song twice.
  • The use of a cleansing agent which is readily available all over, can be used frequently when there is no access to soap and water but remember that hands should be washed at least once after using the cleansing agent five times.
  • Since the Flu bug gets into your system mostly by touch followed by transmission to your face (namely your eyes or mouth) it makes sense to touch your face as infrequently as possible.

There are medicines that can cure or shorten the Influenza illness and at times may even prevent Flu.  There is also a rapid test that can be done in your Doctor’s office or the hospital to show the possible existence of Flu (… as with all testing it is not 100% infallible – so trust your instincts as a parent). Although the signs and symptoms of Flu are not much different than any other cold it is more acute in onset and is respiratory in nature (runny nose, cough, fever, headache, decreased appetite).  It can also last longer than the usual 5-7 day cold. Vomiting and diarrhea or “stomach Flu” is not very common.  Keep in mind these medications should be used within the first 48 hrs. of the disease or they’ll probably be ineffective.  These medications can be used also in infants older than 1 month and have very few side effects.

Finally, the Flu virus has a particular ability to mutate over a relatively short period of time, and frequently does so after the release of the year’s vaccine. The strains of vaccine usually included in the production of vaccine for the year are “guessed “from the Australian experience during their winter months.  Therefore there are years in which the vaccine is not totally protective.  It happened last year and again this year.  Most cases are still caused by the known strains of Flu so don’t forget to get everyone fully immunized.

The symptoms of the new variety of Flu are similar, if not worse, than the regular Flu.

So if you feel that you or your child has the Flu, talk to your Doctor’s office or bring your child in to be seen; the earlier the better.

Photo credit: Laura SmithCC license

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics.Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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