It’s flu season again! Are you prepared?
Beaches pediatrics has a limited quantity of the flu vaccine available, so make an appointment now to get one for you and your child! We are carrying the quadrivalent vaccine this year which is more effective than the prior trivalent form.
What causes the flu?
The flu (influenza) is caused by a virus (an RNA virus of the family Orthomyxoviridae if you really want to know). It is NOT the same as a cold virus. It is NOT the same as gastroenteritis (which people mistakenly call the “stomach flu”.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The most common symptoms are sore throat, red and itchy eyes, runny nose, fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches, fatigue and feeling crummy. Children can also get nausea and vomiting.
Almost a third of people who have the flu have NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL!
Some children and adults get complications from the flu, including ear infections, sinusitis and pneumonia.
How is flu transmitted?
You can get the flu from air-born droplets (someone else coughs or sneezes around you) OR from touching nasal secretions of someone with flu OR from contaminated surfaces (like the cart at the grocery store!).
How can you prevent the flu?
Preventing the flu is pretty easy! The most important preventative measure is GOOD HAND WASHING with plain old SOAP! And remind children to keep their hands away from their face. Sunlight and disinfectants also inactivate the virus, so wipe down your shopping cart with a disinfectant wipe!
In addition to hand washing, make sure that you and your child get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends the vaccine for all high-risk individuals, which includes young children.
This year, there are two forms of vaccine—trivalent (which protects against 3 types of flu) and quadrivalent (which protects against FOUR types of flu). Needless to say, the quadrivalent is a better vaccine—it will likely be the ONLY one available in 2014.
The vaccine comes in a nasal spray, which children tend to like better. It is an attenuated (weakened) live virus so should not be used by anyone with a low immune system. The other form is the shot. The shot is a killed virus so, whatever you may believe, you CANNOT CONTRACT THE FLU FROM THE FLU SHOT!
How is the flu treated?
Since a virus causes the flu, standard antibiotics are ineffective in treating the symptoms. However, an antiviral medication can be prescribed, which will shorten the course of the illness by a few days. This medication must be started within a few days of symptoms starting, so see your pediatrician right away if you think you child has the flu. There is a rapid flu test that your pediatrician can do in the office to confirm the diagnosis.
Make sure your ill child gets plenty of rest and fluids when he has the flu! And if he is not getting better, or looks particularly ill to you, make sure you see your pediatrician. Although the flu itself is caused by a virus, bacterial infections can occur with it and those do need to be treated with an antibiotic.
For more information about the flu visit: