I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the signs, symptoms and treatments available for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.
Did you and your family get a flu shot this year?
As a family with an asthma sufferer, we have been diligent about this line of defense against the flu since he was diagnosed back in 2013. It is the easiest and most effective thing we can do to protect his fragile lungs during the annual flu season.
This year, with COVID-19 making good on the threat of being particularly troublesome during these winter months when everyone is locked inside together, keeping my family safe from other illnesses we do have protections against and treatments for is even more important. The last thing we need is to fall victim to influenza, leaving us vulnerable and susceptible to something more serious.
Like many vaccines, the annual flu shot protects you against the flu very well, but is not 100% effective. You can read the science behind why that is here, but suffice to say that sometimes you get the flu vaccine and you still wind up getting the flu!
Fortunately, if you fall into that category, with diligence and treatments like antivirals for flu, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you or children experience a positive outcome and a speedy return to health.
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Kids and Influenza: Understanding Antivirals for Flu Treatment and Tips to Help Them Get Better Fast
Visit your doctor early.
With other viruses like the common cold and COVID-19 circulating at the same time, it can be challenging to determine if your child is suffering from influenza or something else.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of influenza in order to quickly determine if your child may require further treatment.
Common symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle pain/body aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).
Because these symptoms often overlap with those of COVID-19, is it important to get your child to the doctor quickly and determine what treatment options may be available.
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Get medical treatment quickly.
I get it, rushing off to the pediatrician because of a slight fever and a few sniffles seems like overkill, but trust your instincts on this one and don’t hesitate to seek treatment if your child is exhibiting symptoms of the flu.
A delay in treatment increases the risk of serious influenza-related complications, including ear infections and pneumonia and can be particularly dangerous for very young children and those with compromised immunes systems.
It’s also important to consider the family unit – can you or your partner afford to miss work to care for your child and/or yourself and other family members if you all get ill? Do you have other older family members in your household who may be susceptible to risky influenza side effects?
Getting early treatment for your child may mean keeping yourself and other members of your family safe because early intervention also allows for the use of antivirals.
Talk to your doctor about antivirals.
Antivirals are NOT the same as antibiotics – they are a different type of drug designed to treat viral infections.
The FDA has approved four antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season:
- Baloxavir marboxil – it is only one pill for one day (vs. Tamiflu which is a 5 day treatment). Reported side effects are nausea – it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for anti-nausea medication if this is prescribed.
- Oseltamivir phosphate
Remember, antibiotics do not fight any virus including the flu or COVID.
If your doctor believes your child has influenza, one of these medications may help. With early treatment, antivirals for influenza are said to reduce length and severity of symptoms making it easier to control the spread of the illness while also helping to limit complications for those suffering. They are particularly important for children with high risk of complications and those who live and interact with others who fall into this category.
Remember to practice common health and hygiene procedures designed to prevent spread.
With COVID-19 on the loose, we are all pretty used to doing things like washing hands appropriately, social distancing, staying home when sick and wearing masks.
Don’t forget these measures don’t just protect you and your family against COVID, they also keep you safe from other illness causing germs like influenza.
You don’t have to don a mask 24/7 at home, but if you suspect your child may be coming down with something like the flu, consider avoiding sharing cups and utensils and make sure they are washing their hands frequently and well (or using hand sanitizer), until you’re sure.
Please take a moment to share your experience, thoughts and worries about influenza in this survey ed-IQ is conducting – your input can provide important information for healthcare providers.
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with pediatric influenza, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.
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