Your Family’s Guide to the Flu
Information from Genesis Pediatrics in Rochester, NY
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a seasonal yet very common illness. Each year the influenza virus evolves, which makes it difficult to prevent the flu for the long term. Therefore, it is recommended that you and your child(ren) receive a flu shot each year in preparation for the flu season as soon as the vaccine becomes available.
Even though flu symptoms are similar to the common cold, they can become severe enough to lead to other complications and lead to death. On average 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to the flu, and nearly 140 pediatric deaths are related to it.
Click below for the Weekly US Map: Influenza Summary Update from the CDC
Tips to Prevent the Flu
The CDC recommends that you and your child should take the following precautions to avoid getting or spreading the flu virus:
Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. Especially when you have symptoms of a cold or flu, you should also avoid contact with others.
Stay home when you are sick. Not only will this help prevent the spread of germs including the flu virus, but it will ensure that you don’t over-exert yourself if you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose. Sneezing and coughing are the easiest ways for airborne viruses to spread.
Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often, not just when you use the restroom. Use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Even if you keep your hands clean, viruses easily enter the body through these areas on your face.
Practice good health habits. Make sure to clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot. Additionally, make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food and drink a lot of fluids.
Make sure you teach these good habits to your family so when they are not by your side, they can help prevent the flu from spreading.
The flu season can start in October and last until May, but the bulk of flu cases occur between December and February. It is important to stay up-to-date with flu outbreaks in your area. There can be an upswing in the number of confirmed cases of influenza in the Rochester area towards the end of winter.
Make sure to schedule a pediatric appointment for a flu shot for your children as soon as possible. You can get a flu shot at Genesis Pediatrics in Rochester, most pharmacies and even school health centers. The typical flu vaccine protects against what research indicates will be the most common viruses during the season, specifically Influenza A virus (H1N1 and H3N2) and a 1 or 2 strands of Influenza B virus (depending on the vaccination available). Therefore, even if you get the vaccine, there is still a chance get the flu virus, but a flu shot is the best preventative measure you can take. It also takes time for your body to build up the antibodies after the vaccination, which is why it’s important to get the flu shot early.
Luckily, the flu does not usually require much intervention other than easing your symptoms. Eventually it will pass with plenty of rest, drinking a lot of fluids and taking medication to address symptoms of illness. Your body will fight the infection on its own.
The anti-viral medications that are available (such as Tamiflu) are usually prescribed to those patients with other medical conditions that put them at higher risk for complications from Influenza (such as asthma, immunosuppression, or chronic diseases).
Make sure to consult our Genesis Advice Packet (GAP) before giving your child any medication. Some OTC medications for symptoms include: