Amount of fun typically had by sick kids during flu season = 0.
Am I right or what? It’s a tough time of year because it seems like EVERYONE is sick. Add chronic or complex medical issues or a disability into the mix and it makes for a very long couple of months. Let’s all channel our inner germ warriors and quickly review how we might just make it a little easier on ourselves and our kids.
GET THAT FLU SHOT. I know you’ve read it, seen it, heard it a gazillion times by now. It’s really important: not just for you, but also for kids who may have more compromised respiratory systems than your child. We want to protect our kids AND other people’s kids, too. It takes a village! (or a “herd”…because every vaccination counts toward “herd immunity”) It takes about 2 weeks for the flu protection to be active, so getting vaccinated on the early side is just plain smart. That immunity may fade somewhat after several (6+) months or so but your child WILL be protected during the thick of it. Oh, and get yourself vaccinated too.
RECOGNIZE SYMPTOMS EARLY. Know what the signs of flu are: high fevers, dry cough, chills and fussiness/body aches If your child doesn’t manifest infection in a typical way (as many with chronic illnesses don’t), reflect on what DOES clue you in that your child is sick, and act quickly. The medications that fight the flu need to be administered early on in the course of the illness, so don’t hesitate to get checked out.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BREATHING AND HYDRATION. These are the two biggest issues with the flu, aside from comfort care. It’s wise to think NOW about what will support your child should she get sick: do you have enough medicines for your nebulizer machine? And does the machine work? How will you hydrate her if she feels too weak to drink? Does she have a stomach tube or will she tolerate syringe-fulls of fluid?
FINAL THOUGHT: Remember that Influenza is a virus, so antibiotics don’t work against this infection. They only work against bacterial infections. So we mostly rely on patience and supportive care. Hang in there, everyone. I’m sending all of my good vibes your way!
* Dr. Christina Johns is Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatrics.