From the Health Office
Julie Senecal RN BSN MEd
It’s begun; flu season has started here at Molly!
Each year, approximately 60 million people contract influenza in the United States.
What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?
Signs of the flu are the following: exhaustion, general body aches and pains, fever, chills, possibly a cough, sore throat, and possibly accompanied by vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
Tip to discern whether you have the common cold or the flu:
Cold symptoms are normally limited from the neck up – stuffy nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, sore throat, and cough whereas the flu can include cold symptoms but also, consumes your entire body with fever, generalized muscle aches, and fatigue. The flu can also cause a much more serious illness and can even be life- threatening.
How does the flu spread?
You can catch the flu by breathing in someone’s germ infected air droplets produced by a sneeze or a cough or by touching your mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth) with your hands after you have picked their virus on your hands. With this year’s strain of flu they say it’s contagious just by being in an infected person’s close proximity.
How can you prevent the flu?
The number one way – handwashing! In addition, getting the flu shot can prevent or at least lessen the degree of symptoms and duration of the flu. It can also decrease the risk of complications associated with the flu. Cleaning and disinfecting your space is another way to prevent getting the flu and it will also decrease it from spreading to others.
When can your child return to school?
The illness can last up to a week or more. Your child can come back to school when he or she feels well enough and has been fever free for 24 hours (without medication that prevents fever). With vomiting or diarrhea, they can return 12 hours after their last episode.
When would do you need to bring your child to the emergency room for the flu?
If your child is …
- so irritable that they do not want to be held
- having difficulty waking and interacting
- not drinking or urinating
- having difficulty breathing
How do you treat the flu?
Bring your child to the doctor to be diagnosed and if caught early enough (within 48 hours of showing signs and symptoms of the flu), they will likely prescribe an anti-flu viral mediation. The medication should both reduce the duration and the severity of flu symptoms. Tylenol is recommended to relieve fever, sore throat, and/or general aches and pains. Drink to drink plenty of fluids and gets lots of rest. Also, children should avoid any product that contains aspirin as it puts them at risk for Reye syndrome (an illness that can lead to liver damage).
For more information regarding the flu can be obtained from the VT Dept. of Health website.