Flu Prevention Tips

A man on a sofa with a blanket and cold/flu medicine on a coffee table(BlackDoctor.org) — It is flu season now. Hence, parents need to know all about flu and do everything to prevent flu in children. Influenza, commonly called, the flu, is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that sometimes spreads to the lower regions of the airway. The infection is contagious that spreads even through infected droplets generated by a cough or sneeze from an infected person and his/her oral secretions like saliva.

Parents often tend to mistake flu as just common cold. Thus, only a parental awareness about the symptoms of flu can effectively protect children from this viral infection. In children, the typical symptoms include persistent fever that lasts for more than three days with temperature shooting upto forty degrees Centigrade. Symptoms like Croup, Pneumonia, Aches and Vomiting are also frequent. In infants, the symptoms are not specific and hence, often treated as bacterial infections. Poor feeding and lethargy may indicate flu in infants. Thus, detection of flu symptoms is the most difficult problem for parents in such cases. If your child has persistent high fever beyond a period of three days with typical respiratory infection symptoms like continuous thick nasal discharge or respiratory distress and exhibits lethargy it could be flu fever. Other indications include symptoms of dehydration. The child cries without tears, exhibits dry tongue/lips and urination is abnormally poor.

Parents have the right to suspect flu – but only your doctor has the right to treat. The doctor usually detects flu not only by just observing the typical symptoms such as fever, lethargy and breathing distress, but also by accurate laboratory diagnosis. Parental care includes medicine administration prescribed by the doctor, allowing rest, feeding adequate fluids, cleansing the child’s nose before feeding and sleep. It is better to use a sterile rubber suction tube in infants to cleanse the nose gently. Sterile tissues can be used in older children. Humidified air gives comfortable sleep.

Although, many FDA approved antiviral drugs are in use to treat flu in children and infants, prevention is better than cure. This especially true with flu because of the fact many antiviral drugs prescribed for treating flu in adult patients have not been approved for treating children and infants due to various side effects including seizure like disorders.

A flu shot or flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu in children. Mist form of the flu vaccine is also available. The influenza shot is usually prepared with the most common strains of the viral particles. Reactions to flu vaccine are not very severe and do not last for more than one or two days. The flu vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than six months. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended in children older than six months up to nine years of age during their first year of vaccination. The second dose is given twenty-eight or more days after the first dose.  Flu shot is recommended to all children aged six months till their nineteenth year.

Washing hands with soap or a disinfectant prior to handling the child or infant and avoiding direct contacts of the child with infected persons like kissing can effectively prevent flu infection.

To summarize, the effectiveness of flu care depends entirely on early detection of the symptoms, proper treatment and parental care.

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