Health Services » The Flu: What parents need to know to keep kids healthy

The Flu: What parents need to know to keep kids healthy

What is the Flu?

The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the lungs, nose and throat
Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and sometimes, can lead to death
Each year in the United States:
  • 5-20 percent of Americans fall ill to the flu
  • Children are two to three times more likely than adults to get sick with the flu, and they frequently spread the virus to others
Young children are at the greatest risk for 
developing serious flu complications, as well as the elderly and those with certain health conditions

How Does Flu Spread?
There are two ways to get the flu. Usually, flu is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Occasionally, people can get the flu from touching a germ-infested surface

What are the Common Symptoms of Flu?
Often we get confused about the symptoms of the flu and how they are different from a common cold. Knowing the symptoms of the flu is important and will help you act quickly to get your child feeling better faster

Common symptoms of flu include: high fever, severe headache, muscle and body aches, exhaustion and dry cough
  • Children often have additional flu symptoms that  are rare in adults, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Symptoms of a common cold include: stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, and hacking cough

Simple Steps for Keeping Your Child Healthy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent your child from getting the flu is to take him/her to get a flu vaccine

You should talk to your child about practicing good health habits, such as:
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Covering mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and disposing of the tissue in a proper trash receptacle
  • Avoiding sharing drinks, water bottles, or silverware with others
You can help prevent the flu from spreading at home by disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, toys, and other commonly shared items

Also, if someone in your household gets the flu, a doctor can prescribe a medication – called an antiviral – that can actually prevent other members of the household from catching the flu
  • Studies show that some antiviral medications are up to 92 percent effective in preventing the flu when taken once daily for seven days
If you are concerned about your child’s flu symptoms, call your doctor early. Call your doctor immediately if your child has a chronic disease. Some children may benefit from an antiviral medication, which can be prescribed by a physician and can help lessen the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. To be effective, antiviral medication must be taken within 48 hours after flu symptoms begin

If your child has the flu, it is important for them to stay home from school, rest, and drink plenty of fluids

Additionally, notify the school nurse if your child has the flu. Monitoring flu incidence in our school will help keep students, faculty, and our community healthy