Pediatric Advice

All About the Flu

Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu is a seasonal respiratory virus that is unpredictable, but usually peaks each year between November and March. It is spread by contact with respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Flu often comes on suddenly and causes a variety of symptoms that can range from mild to severe and can be life threatening and even deadly. It is one of many viruses, such as rhinovirus (the common cold) and RSV that circulate every fall and winter, however it is the only one that can be prevented or minimized with an annual flu shot. Different strains circulate each year and immunity wanes, so an annual vaccine formulated to match the anticipated circulating strains is necessary every year for everyone 6 months and older. It is especially indicated for anyone with an underlying medical condition such as asthma.

Symptoms usually begin 1-4 days after exposure and can last 3-7 days.

  • Abrupt onset of fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Non-productive cough
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes)
  • Antibiotics will not help because it is a viral infection
  • Drink lots of fluids and rest
  • Use a fever reducer like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) but no aspirin
  • Cough and cold medicines are not helpful or recommended for young children
  • Some children with underlying health issues and risk factors may benefit from a prescription antiviral medication such as Tamiflu

In some children with flu pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections or neurological complications may occur. Typically flu symptoms will last for 3-7 days and will respond somewhat to comfort measures. Be suspicious of a possible complication if symptoms don’t respond, at least for a few hours to comfort measures, if symptoms improve and then recur in full force, or if there are any signs of labored breathing, wheezing, or dehydration. Call us if you are not sure or worried about your child’s symptoms.

Here are some of the symptoms that need medical attention. If you have any concerns you should call us, make an appointment, or call 911 for a true emergency.

  • Severe fatigue or irritability that does not respond to consoling and /or Tylenolsn’
  • Severe headache or confusion that doesn’t go away
  • Chest pain, labored breathing, persistent cough, wheezing
  • Neck stiffness
  • Dehydration (dry mouth, decreased urine output)
  • Weak legs or feet
  • Severe muscle pain and/or red urine

2019 Flu Clinic

WHO: Everyone 6mo of age and older, especially anyone with an underlying medical condition such as asthma.

WHEN: Daily BEGINNING Monday, Sept 9, 2019 -Jan at any office visit, or walk in at your convenience between 8:30 and 5:00. (parents and siblings can get when here for one child’s appointment). It is recommended, whenever possible, to get immunized by the end of October.

WHAT: We have received a large supply of flu shots  for both our privately insured and VFC patients.

PARENTS: As a convenience we have shots for $25.00 cash (no credit or debit cards) and strongly recommend flu shots for every household member, especially if there is a baby under 6 months (they are too young to be vaccinated, but at high risk for complications if they get the flu.)

WHY: Although the flu shot is not 100% effective it dramatically reduces the risk of catching the flu—which can range from mild symptoms and discomfort to serious and severe illness, even death. The strains in the vaccine are changed every year to try to match what the experts think will be circulating. Everyone needs a flu shot yearly, and those under age 9 getting vaccine for the first time, or who have not had 2 doses in the past, will need two doses 4 weeks apart.