Influenza (flu) season is in full swing! You have no doubt heard many news reports about the severity of illness and deaths of both children and adults. Below, we sort out some fears and facts about the flu.
- Fear: Flu is a serious disease and can be life-threatening.
- Fact: Flu IS a serious disease and can be life-threatening. Most people develop symptoms like fever, cough, congestion, body aches, and sore throat; these symptoms usually last about one week, then resolve.
- Fear: Flu vaccine doesn’t work.
- Fact: Vaccines to prevent the flu are usually available from September to March, which also happens to be around the same time that flu is most common. It is not an exact science, but the vaccine usually covers the most common types of illness that are likely to strike the United States.
- Fear: Getting the flu vaccine makes me sick!
- Fact: Occasionally, people will experience things like mild body aches or soreness at the site of the injection. However, most people tolerate the vaccine well. You can get another strain of flu not covered in the vaccine or another type of virus similar to flu. If this happens, the flu vaccine can sometimes make these symptoms shorter in duration or less severe.
- Fear: Flu needs antibiotics or antiviral medication to get better.
- Fact: Most of the time, flu will get better on its own with only supportive care. Flu is caused by a virus, which does not respond to antibiotics like amoxicillin or azithromycin. Anti-viral drugs do exist to treat the flu, but must be taken in the first 24 hours of illness. Many children (and adults!) who take these medications have multiple side effects associated with them, including vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. These drugs only shorten the duration of the illness – they do not “cure” the flu.
- Fear: There is no treatment for flu.
- Fact: While there are not many medications to specifically treat the flu, symptomatic care is always a good option. Things like hot tea with honey (if your child is over 1 year of age) and lemon, chicken soup, and anti-fever medications (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen) can do a lot to make your child feel better.
- Fear: The doctor has to see my child when they have the flu.
- Fact: Not necessarily. If you are concerned that your child is not responding to typical treatment at home or has a fever that is not responding to over-the-counter medications, we may need to see them to ensure there is not another cause for their fever. Also, if your child is not eating/drinking well and has not urinated in 8 hours, it may be time to call the office for further advice.
It’s not too late to get your flu shot! Call your primary office to set up a time to get the vaccine.