BY JAMIE LOBER
Every parent has had to deal with the flu at some point in their child’s life. “We see cases usually as early as October but the peak of flu season is the winter like December, January and February,” said Dr. Seth Bush, pediatrician at Middle Georgia Pediatrics in Macon. Each year the flu going around is different and though a healthy child can potentially get very sick, children with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk and merit special attention.
The flu is troublesome to all it affects. “The flu is a certain type of cold virus that gives you more severe symptoms than the common cold,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics —Georgia Chapter. It is upper respiratory in nature. Aside from good hygiene, the only prevention is the flu shot.
How the Flu Shot Works
Do not be afraid. “It is an old wives tale that you can get the flu from the flu shot,” said Bush. Flu mist is an alternative but all kids are not eligible. “The flu mist is a live weakened virus so theoretically you could get some mild flu-like symptoms but that is rare,” said Bush. Since your child’s immunity wanes over time, it is essential to get the shot every year. “This year’s flu is similar to what it was last year so the vaccine is the same but it rarely happens like that,” said Bush. Almost each year the vaccine gets changed in order to be protective against whatever strain is most likely going around at the time.
How to Care For Your Child and
Get Them Through Their Sickness
Usually, the flu can be managed at home. “For people who are feeling sick there might be a chance to use an anti-viral medicine, Tamaflu, but it is only helpful if started in the first forty-eight hours of an illness,” said Shu. It may be recommended for young children, elderly or somebody with lung problems like asthma. Getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids are important. “You can do fever-reducer pain medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” said Shu. Saline for the nose can be helpful. “Honey, humidifier and chicken soup have been shown to decrease inflammation in times of respiratory illness,” said Shu.
Danger Signs and Seeing
If you are concerned, you should bring your child to the pediatrician. “We check their temperature and breathing because one of the complications is for it to cause pneumonia or a bacterial infection on top of the virus in which case the person may need an antibiotic,” said Shu. Some temperatures warrant immediate attention. “Any fever over 101.5 we want to check to make sure it is not a bacterial infection we can treat and in the younger kids, anything over 100.4 really concerns us,” said Dr. Jason Smith, pediatrician at Primary Pediatrics in Macon. Pediatricians’ recommendations are individualized. “For kids over age six, the doctor may recommend a cough suppressant and over age one, using honey as a cough suppressant can be helpful,” said Shu.
End of the Flu
The flu can last awhile. “Usually you take the medicine for the flu for five days and you can feel bad for a week to two weeks,” said Pat Bryant, nurse at Pediatric Associates in Warner Robins. Sometimes a cough hangs on longer. The best advice you can offer to friends and neighbors is to be proactive this season. “Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizer, do not share drinks or utensils and cough into your elbow and not your hand,” said Bryant. Act early to save problems down the road.