Flu Season Is Here!

By Guest Editor on Nov 6, 2017

With the falling leaves and the baked goods that come with the changing of the seasons, coughs, runny noses and sore throats aren't far behind. While the flu can hit anyone, children are especially vulnerable.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), children, especially those younger than five years, are at higher risk for serious flu-related complications. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza; thousands of children are hospitalized and some children die from flu. We sat down with board certified Las Vegas-based pediatrician, Dr. Dheeresh Mamidi, to discuss one of the most common illnesses this season and how to protect yourself. 

First, it is important to know if what your child has contracted is bacterial or viral because there are different treatments for both. 

"Typically, a virus is a short lasting seven-day occurrence that can be characterized by a temperature, hot and cold sweats and aching in the muscles and joints. Sometimes there may be a sore throat or a runny nose or even a cough and sometimes there may not. You may just feel not well and listless," he said. "A viral infection, however, can weaken your immune system and allow bacteria to sneak in and cause havoc to your child's health."

Unfortunately, many of these symptoms may be bacterial in origin as well, though most nuisance bacterial infections in winter tend to settle in the chest or infect the sinuses. Sometimes they can infect the throat - like strep throat. Usually, if the sputum or mucous is green, yellow or greyish that indicates a bacterial infection. If it is clear, then it is a viral infection. However, even a clear runny nose or coughed up transparent globule may still be a bacterial infection. 

"The flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting the flu and spreading it to others," said Dr. Mamidi. "Getting vaccinated can reduce flu illnesses, doctor's visits, missed work and school days,and flu-related hospitalizations and deaths in children."  

Additionally, stay home when you are sick. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects on a regular basis. While you can't entirely prevent contracting the flu, you can take steps to lessen your child's chances.

Flu Fast Facts

  • Children commonly need medical care because of influenza, especially before they turn five years old.
  • Children younger than five years and especially those younger than two years are at high risk for serious influenza complications. 
  • Children of any age with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system also are at high risk for serious flu complications.

When to Call the Doctor

  • Increased work of breathing including fast breathing, nostril flaring, use of rib, stomach or neck muscles to breathe
  • Markedly decreased activity or responsiveness
  • No improvement over a three to five-day period
  • All children under three months of age with a fever
  • Dehydration demonstrated by decreased fluid intake, urination less than three times in 24 hours, or decreased tears