Guide to the Flu from Pediatrics 5280
Flu Treatment in Centennial and Castle Rock, CO
Influenza, or the flu, is a common seasonal viral illness, typically starting in the fall, peaking in the winter months and decreasing into spring. There are many different strains of influenza virus and they can evolve, making it difficult to prevent long-term. That is why a flu shot is needed and recommended every year at the beginning of fall, to prevent illness during each flu season.
Flu symptoms can include signs of common viral illnesses (colds) like cough and congestion. With influenza infection, it is common to also experience higher fevers, body aches and chills, decreased energy, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although influenza is a viral infection, it can lead to the development of secondary bacterial infections such as ear infections and pneumonia. Severe cases can lead to hospitalization or even death. Certain people are more likely to have severe cases of the flu, including very young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with certain chronic medical problems.
Tips for Preventing Flu Infection
There are a number of measures you can take to avoid catching and spreading the flu virus.
Influenza vaccination. Receiving a flu vaccine each fall decreases likelihood/severity of illness.
Avoid close contact with others. Especially contact with those who are sick. When you are sick, you should avoid close contact with others.
Stay home when you are sick. This helps prevent the spread of illness, and allows those who are ill to rest and recover.
Cover your nose and mouth. Sneezing and coughing are the most common ways for viruses to spread. Cover your nose and mouth with any sneezing or coughing.
Frequent hand washing. Wash your hands often, not just when you use the restroom. Wash or clean hands after contact with any high touch surfaces, especially when in public places.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Clean hands are so important as viruses often enter the body after contact of hands with the eyes, nose or mouth.
Practice good health habits. Make sure to disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched before using, like shopping cart handles. Your body is better equipped to fight a viral infection if you get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food and drink plenty of fluids.
Flu Season and Immunization
To help prevent influenza infection each year, it is important to get a flu shot at the beginning of the flu season, typically late September or October. Each year, the flu vaccine is slightly different and formulated to protect against what research indicates will be the most common flu strains during that year’s flu season. It is possible that you may still get the flu virus if you have had the vaccine, but vaccination is the best preventative measure you can take.. The flu shot can help to decrease the severity of the flu illness and prevent complications if you do still develop illness. The flu shot is made with inactivated (dead) flu virus, so it is not possible to develop influenza illness from receiving the shot. The nasal mist flu vaccination does contain small amounts of live flu virus, and is not recommended for some populations, such as children with underlying asthma. Be sure to discuss with your provider if any questions about influenza vaccination.
The most effective treatment is prevention!
Most healthy children and adults will not need prescription medication treatment for influenza illness. As it is a viral infection, most treatment is supportive care targeting symptoms like fever or cough. Symptoms can be treated with the use of Tylenol or Motrin as needed for fever or body aches, honey-based cough medication for children over 12 months but under 6, or other over the counter medications for older children as needed along with rest and fluids. Some high-risk patients (children under the age of 2, children with underlying medical problems such as asthma, etc) may benefit from additional antiviral treatment such as Tamiflu. Our office follows the CDC guidelines and recommendations for antiviral use in influenza illness, which is updated yearly. If antiviral treatment is needed, it is most effective if started within 48 hours of onset of influenza symptoms