Does My Child Have “The Flu”?

“Flu” is short for influenza. This infection will always start with some sort of gastrointestinal infection followed by a respiratory infection. This year, I am appreciating with most of the children that the flu is starting off with a simple upset tummy ache. Some children will vomit or have diarrhea for a day, but most just do not want to eat. In a few days the child will then complain of a very bad sore throat and/or headache and extreme fatigue, despite having a good night’s sleep. 

child snuggling

Usually the next day, the child will have heavy nasal congestion followed by some chest tightness and a cough that night or the next. The cough of influenza sounds like a smoker’s cough and can be quite spasmodic especially in the evening. One way to tell for sure if your child has this cough is to ask them to take a deep breath in and see if it produces a cough. This is why the reactive cough of the flu is exacerbated with sports.

The flu can last for abut 2 weeks but the cough can persist up to 2 months. The flu is very contagious from one person to another via air droplets breathed in by an infected person or by touching a surface with infected secretions and then touching one’s nose or mouth. One’s best insurance to prevent getting the flu each year is to get a Flu Shot. The best measure to prevent getting the flu from a classmate is to have your child wash their hands each time before touching their nose or mouth. Since this is an almost impossible task, teaching your child to at least wash their hands before snack and lunch and cover their nose when sneezing and their mouth when coughing will greatly prevent the spread of the flu.

Once your child has been diagnosed with the flu by your physician, it is important that your child remain at home until there has been no fever, vomiting, or explosive diarrhea for at least 24 hours. A fever is 100.5F or more. Your physician my elect to treat with an anti-viral medication like Tamaflu to shorten the flu’s duration by only a few days. I prefer to to treat with Zithromax with a great response within a few days!

Take care and Stay well,
Dr. Roma

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