Q: I have heard that flu season is expected to be severe this year. What should I do if my children start showing signs?
Influenza has arrived ahead of schedule. Typically, flu season peaks in February, but this year, it’s expected to peak in December. As of Dec. 1, North Carolina was one of eight states reporting widespread influenza activity, with three flu-related deaths, reports the Centers for Disease Control.
Influenza is a respiratory virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. Most cases resolve with symptomatic treatment: rest, fluids and fever reducers. In certain instances, antiviral medications (such as Tamiflu) may be recommended.
During the peak of flu season, doctor’s offices and urgent cares get overwhelmed with phone calls and sick patients. Following are guidelines on when it’s time to go the doctor.
Contact your health care provider within the first 48 hours of illness if your child:
• Is under age 5 (especially ages 2 and younger).
• Has asthma, diabetes or other chronic health problems.
• Is on daily aspirin therapy for any reason.
If your child is 5 or older and otherwise healthy, seek medical advice if there is:
• Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing.
• Gray or bluish skin discoloration.
• Signs of dehydration: decreased urine output and inadequate fluid intake.
• Recurrent vomiting.
• Fever that persists beyond the third day of illness.
• Fever and cough that improved initially but returned or worsened several days into the illness (which could indicate developing pneumonia).
For more information about the flu, visit cdc.gov.