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Northampton, MA 01060
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By contactus@napeds.com
January 29, 2019
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Flu season is upon us –

We have seen a significant increase in the number of cases of influenza in our community. Here are a few things to remember:

What to Look For
Influenza usually comes on quickly, most commonly with fever (sometimes as high as 104 or 105), but also with cough, sore throat, headache, nausea/vomiting, and/or body aches. Some children can get extremely sick so it’s important to keep a close eye on your child and call us if you are concerned. In particular, if you think your child had the flu and appears to be getting better, but then suddenly gets sick with another high fever right away, it’s a good idea to call.

The New York Times published a good article on the flu last year which is still relevant -- https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/well/family/children-flu-infants-deaths-influenza-complications-fever-breathing-symptoms.html

How to treat it
Influenza is a virus, and in most cases, in otherwise healthy individuals, you can treat the symptoms and allow the body’s immune system to fight off the illness. This includes lots of fluids and rest, as well as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches, pains, and fever. There is a medication called Tamiflu (oseltamivir) that is often used to help treat people with the flu, most commonly people who are at high risk of complications (children under age 2 or with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, immunocompromise, or neurologic diseases such as seizure disorder or autism). Tamiflu is not like an antibiotic – it does not kill the virus – but it can stop the virus from replicating and if started in the first 48 hours of the illness, it can shorten the duration of symptoms. If 48 hours has passed since the first symptoms started, it is not likely to help, and Tamiflu can have side effects of its own including nausea, vomiting, and (rarely) neurologic side effects such as confusion. Tamiflu can sometimes be used as prophylaxis to prevent the flu should someone in the household have it, but we typically reserve this only for patients who are at very high risk.

How to prevent it
Your best bet for prevention is still the age-old recommendation of good handwashing! Try not to share food or beverages, and teach your children to cover their mouth when coughing (and don’t forget to do it yourself!)

Also, it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine! The flu vaccine does seem to be a pretty good match this year and more importantly, while the flu vaccine may not be able to completely prevent the flu, it does seem to be effective at preventing complications of the flu such as pneumonia, hospitalization, or death. Please call to set up an appointment if you would like to come in for a flu vaccine.

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