The Flu: Young Does Not Equal Untouchable

cold medication tissues and thermometer(BlackDoctor.org) — As a young adult aged 19 to 24 years, you may think you can handle anything, but there’s a very good chance that the 2009 H1N1 flu (sometimes called “swine flu”) will bring you down this year – seriously. This new flu virus, which emerged in the spring of 2009, may be circulating in your social circles, meaning you need to take extra care, since this flu is hitting young people particularly hard. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging all young people between the ages of 19 and 24 to get the 2009 H1N1 vaccine this flu season.

College students across the country are being slammed by this new virus. For many, this has been the hard way to learn a very crucial lesson – just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you can’t get sick from the flu. Illness with 2009 H1N1 virus has ranged from mild to severe, and while most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from infection with this virus have definitely occurred, including in young, otherwise healthy people.

“What has been impressive is the rate at which the 2009 H1N1 flu is attacking young adults 19 to 24 years old, sometimes with serious consequences,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “While most serious outcomes have occurred in people with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, about one-third of people who have been hospitalized with this virus were otherwise healthy.”

Since it takes two weeks to build immunity, it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The H1N1 vaccine is produced the same way as seasonal flu vaccines; and both the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 vaccines have had very good safety track records. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to closely monitor the vaccines for continued safety.

And if you can’t stand needles, no worries – the H1N1 flu vaccine comes in a nasal spray, too!

So contact your doctor, pharmacist or local health department to find out where to get vaccinated.

For more information about BDO’s partnership with the U.S. Government, visit: http://flu.gov/news/openletter.html. For more information about the flu, visit: www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636). Also, to find out where vaccinations are available near you, visit: http://www.flu.gov/news/socialmedia/index.html#flulocator.

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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