The Flu: What you need to know about protecting and treating your baby

Winter is here with its accompanying illnesses. Just last week my baby and I were sick with the flu, and if there’s anything worse than a sick baby, it’s being sick yourself at the same time! Because Mommy’s just don’t get to take sick days!

WHAT IS THE FLU?

One of the most common winter ailments is the flu. We turn to Dr. Sears for info on where it comes from and what to do about it if it strikes your family!

The flu is a virus (called influenza). It hits between November and March, and is probably responsible for 1/3 to ½ of all sick visits to our office during the winter. Keep in mind, the flu is a VIRUS. It is therefore NOT treatable with antibiotics.

How can you tell if your child (or you!) has the flu? There are two typical forms of the flu:

  1. Fever and one or two other symptoms such as sore throat and headache – some flu illnesses are more simple, and cause just a few symptoms.

  2. Multi-symptom flu – this is the more miserable kind of flu. It can include many or all of the following symptoms:

    • High fever, chills

    • Sore throat

    • Headache

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

    • Diarrhea

    • Abdominal pain

    • Body and muscle aches

    • Stuffy nose

    • Clear or green runny nose

    • Cough – dry or productive

    • Irritated, red eyes

    WHEN TO VISIT THE DOCTOR

    Most children with the flu don’t even need to see a doctor. Here are some guidelines to help you decide if a doctor’s visit is warranted:

    • Fever more than three days – while this may still be just the flu, it’s best to double check with your doctor.

    • Moderate to severe dehydration – see our site under dehydration here.

    • You have a gut feeling that your child is unusually ill.

    • Severe cough with chest pain AND shortness of breath. This may mean pneumonia is setting in.

    SHOULD YOUR CHILD GET A FLU SHOT?

    Click here to find out the answer.

    Worried about strep throat? Many patients come into our office during the winter because of sore throat of a day or two. Most of these cases are NOT strep, but rather just part of the flu. See our site under sore throat to help you decide if yours may be strep or not.

    Click here for a link to our full discussion on the flu and how to treat it.

    BOOST YOUR CHILD’S IMMUNE SYSTEM THROUGH THE WINTER

    Want to help your kids avoid these illnesses altogether? Here are some ways you can boost their immune system and keep them in school. Take as many of these supplements as you feel is appropriate every day:

    • Echinacea – this natural herb will enhance your own immune system. Many research studies have proven its effectiveness. Click here for dosing information for you and your kids.

    • Vitamin C – this simple vitamin can fight off invading germs. Younger kids up to age 6 will benefit from around 250 mg per day. Older kids and adults can take 500 mg per day. Available as a powder, chewable, or capsule. Click here to read more about vitamins.

    • Fruits and vegetable supplement – the immune-boosting properties of nature’s food is remarkable. If your kids won’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, I recommend Juice Plus fruit and veggie supplements. Click here to learn more.

    • Zinc – this mineral is a safe and effective way to boost the immune system. Children up to age 6 years can take 10 to 20 mg per day. Older kids and adults can take 20 to 40 mg per day.

    • Probiotics – the common name used for this is Acidophillus. These are healthy bacteria that live in our intestines and help with our immune system. The best species of probiotics are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Available as liquid, powder, and capsules, children and adults can take as directed.

    • Avoid weakening your own immune system – Click here to read what habits can weaken your own immune system.

    Click here to read a full discussion on how to boost your immune system naturally.

    IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD GET SICK, STARTING ECHINACEA AND VITAMIN C RIGHT AWAY MAY MAKE YOUR ILLNESS SHORTER AND MILDER

    Click here for more info on other winter-time illnesses such as RSV (Respiratory Syncycial Virus), Coughs and Colds, Croup, Rotavirus diarrha,dry skin and chapped cheeks!

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