Seems like summer has barely ended, but guess what? We’re almost in flu season. The exact timing and duration of the season can vary, but typically the flu starts showing up in October, with peak season between December and February.
It’s not always easy to tell if your child has the flu, since it tends to come on fast.
Symptoms generally include:
- A high-grade fever up to 104 degrees
- Chills and shakes with the fever
- Extreme tiredness
- Headache and body aches
- Dry, hacking cough
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and belly pain
If your child has these symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a medical provider to rule out other conditions, such as strep, pneumonia or ear infections. If it is the flu, some providers may recommend antiviral medicines like Tamiflu, but I have found them to be ineffective and rarely prescribe them for children. Unfortunately, once little ones have the flu, all you can do is help them feel better as it runs its course. Make sure they get plenty of rest and liquids, and you can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever and minimize aches. Both are available in children’s versions.
Get a flu shot
Of course, the best way to fight the flu is to prevent it with a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control says anyone six months and older should get one. Moms, don’t forget a flu shot for yourself, too.
Other preventative measures
The flu is highly contagious and spreads when you inhale or come in contact with droplets from coughs and sneezes from an infected person. It spreads particularly well in close quarters, like school classrooms, and when kids share things like pencils and toys or play tag or engage in other physical contact.
Unfortunately, kids can be contagious a day before their flu symptoms start (all the more reason to get a flu shot!). But to help fight the spread of the flu to your child and others, there are a few basic steps to take:
- Avoid close contact with kids you know are sick.
- Keep children home if you suspect they have the flu.
- Help kids practice good habits, like covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and washing hands with soap and water regularly.
- Clean and disinfect toys, school supplies and other items kids tend to share.
When it comes to the flu, prevention is the best medicine. With a flu shot and some healthy habits, you and your family should be able to get through the flu season just fine.