Moms

What to do about flu season

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I have a 9 month-old daughter, and I am concerned about flu season. How will I know when flu season has started? And what do I do if she has symptoms of the flu?

Flu season is upon us, and this is a perfect time for all parents to start thinking about flu prevention and treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), North Carolina is seeing an increase in influenza-like activity, but the Influenza-Like Activity Level is still in the low range. Flu season typically peaks later in the winter months.

Influenza is a respiratory virus. Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headache, cough, muscle aches, and fatigue. Most cases of influenza will resolve with symptomatic treatment: rest, fluids, and fever reducers as needed. In certain instances, antiviral medications (such as Tamiflu) may be recommended.

Certain people are at a higher risk for complications related to influenza and should seek medical attention right away. This risk group includes people who:

Are under the age of 5 years (especially age 2 and younger) or over 65

Have asthma, diabetes, morbid obesity or other chronic health problems including cardiac or neurologic disorders.

Take daily aspirin therapy for any reason

Are pregnant or less than 2 weeks post-partum

Reside in a nursing home or long-term care facility

For healthy individuals between the ages of 5 years and 65 years of age, the following would be indications for seeking medical advice and treatment immediately:

Irritability

Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing

Gray or bluish skin discoloration

Lethargy

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 returns or worsens several days into the illness (this could be a sign of developing pneumonia)

Although flu season is rapidly approaching, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are still the best way to prevent influenza.

Weekly flu updates are available at www.cdc.gov.

Dr. Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and past president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society. Dr. Patt answers questions from local parents in her weekly "Ask the Doctor" blog. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email Dr. Patt at: living@charlotteobserver.com and put “pediatrician” in the subject line.

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