It may not come as news to you that there is a nasty strain of the flu virus–H3N2–sweeping the nation. This flu has been sending folks to the hospital in record numbers, has killed at least 37 children nationwide and it is on track to become the worst flu epidemic since the swine flu nearly a decade ago.
Why is this flu so harmful to otherwise healthy kids? The virus implants in bronchial tubes and weakens them, enabling bacteria (including pneumonia causing bacteria) to work its way into the lungs, causing bronchial pneumonia, which is tough for a compromised immune system to handle. Alternatively, the virus can trigger a massive response from the immune system, where the body creates too many immune cells and proteins, which attack good cells as well as the virus.
Here are some tips for getting your children through this terrible flu season:
Make sure everyone washes their hands frequently and thoroughly. Wash them well, making sure to soap in between all the fingers, and don’t forget the thumbs, for at least 20 seconds per washing.
Have everyone in the family get a flu shot. It is not too late (but don’t wait– supplies are low in some communities). While the flu shot has been only 32 percent effective against this year’s strain, the symptoms are said to be less severe in those who have received the shot.
Get a good thermometer. Tracking a temperature is critical in the early days of the flu, and a reliable and easy to read one is an important tool.
If children in your household gets sick, be sure to do the following:
Take them to the doctor if they have a high fever. Generally doctors recommend bringing in a child for the flu if they have a fever for more than 72 hours. But with this severe strain of flu it is important to see a doctor early, as the prescription medication Tamiflu can lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness, especially for young children.
Keep sick kids at home. It does neither them nor their schoolmates any good to send them to school sick. Don’t try to send them back too quickly. Give them time to fully recover to minimize the chance of a relapse.
Avoid milk and milk products (which can stimulate mucous production in children).
Isolate the sick person’s toothbrush. Replace the toothbrush or toothbrush head once the person is better.
Keep all remotes clean, and frequently wipe them down with antibacterial wipes.
Try these home remedies: lots of fluids to keep hydrated; salt water gargle or a mixture of honey and lemon (alone or in tea) to soothe a sore throat, a steamy shower, using a “neti pot” (flushing a mild saline solution through nasal passages).
Any additional tips? Please share!!