How To Keep Your Kids Flu-Free This Season

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Everyone enjoys the cooling temps, fall foliage and approaching holidays; however, the ensuing flu season is not nearly as welcome. Kids who are in school or daycare are at a much higher risk of catching the flu than those that stay at home. To ensure your child stays healthy this flu season, there are some tips you can keep in mind.

GET YOUR CHILD VACCINATED

Although the vaccine is not 100% successful in preventing the flu (according to the latest numbers, it is actually 62% effective), it can certainly reduce your child’s chance of getting sick. Even if your child does end up with the flu, the vaccine can help shorten the illness and keep symptoms mild.

TEACH THEM GOOD ETIQUETTE

Because the flu can spread as much as 6 feet when a child coughs or sneezes, it’s important that your child covers their mouth and nose with a tissue. Make sure your child knows to throw the tissue away afterward and to then wash their hands.

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KEEP EVERYTHING CLEAN

This probably sounds impossible with a child, but it’s smart to wipe down toys, handles, counter tables, phones and TV remotes regularly. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces, so keeping everything in your home as clean as possible will prevent it from spreading. Hot soapy water or a cleaning product works best.

DIET, EXERCISE AND REST

One of the best ways your child can stay flu-free this season is to eat right, exercise daily and get enough rest each night. For school-age children, adequate rest is at least 10 hours, while toddlers need a minimum of 12 hours each night. Your children’s diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetable, milk and water. Also, it’s important your child gets at least an hour of physical activity each day.

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If your child has not had his or her flu shot, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

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Is The Flu Shot Right For Your Child?

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Many people are skeptical about getting the flu shot themselves, let alone taking their child to get one. While there is a remote chance of your child having a negative reaction to the flu shot, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to the vaccine. In order to know whether or not the flu shot is right for your child, it’s important to know why the shot is recommended in the first place.

Why Your Child Should Get Vaccinated

The flu is a highly contagious disease that peaks between October and May each year. Typically, the flu is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny nose. If your child gets the flu shot, it can:

  • Prevent your child from getting the flu
  • Lessen the severity of the flu if your child gets it
  • Keep your child from spreading the flu to others if he or she gets it

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Who Should Not Get The Vaccine?

While the flu shot is beneficial to most people, there are some people who should not get this vaccine. If your child has a severe, life-threatening allergy, he or she should not get vaccinated. Also, if your child is not feeling well, the shot should be delayed temporarily. While this affects very few people, those who have suffered Guillain-Barré Syndrome before should avoid the vaccine all together.

What Are Potential Reactions Of The Vaccine?

While most people will not experience any complications from the shot, some people may have:

  • soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • hoarseness
  • sore, red or itchy eyes
  • cough
  • fever
  • aches
  • headache
  • itching
  • fatigue

Typically these problems only last a day or two after the shot is given. Severe complications, even more rare, include a small increased risk of GBS or seizure (for those who also get pneumococcal vaccine and/or DTaP vaccine).

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If your child has not has his or her flu shot, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have kid-friendly physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

How To Treat Cold Symptoms for Children

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Children can get up to eight colds per year. When your child has a cold, their symptoms can keep them miserable for weeks, causing them to miss school. While there is no cure for the common cold, knowing how to treat your child’s symptoms can have him or her feeling better quicker.

Causes of the Common Cold

Knowing what causes a cold is key to treating, and preventing, it. Typically, a cold is caused by the rhinovirus living in droplets in the air or on things we touch every day. Once these viruses have made their way into the protective lining of the nose and throat, your child’s immune system will react, causing typical cold symptoms.

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Signs and Symptoms of a Cold

If your child is suffering from the common cold, he or she will likely experience a tickle in the throat, a runny (or stuffy) nose, headache, a sore throat and muscle aches. One way to identify a cold is thick yellow or green mucus in the nose.

Treating Cold Symptoms

While medicine can’t treat your child’s cold, it can help lessen the symptoms. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can alleviate symptoms such as muscle aches, headache and fever. It’s important to never give aspirin to children or teens.

To relieve congestion, you can put saltwater drops in your child’s nostrils. Hard candy and cough drops may help your child’s sore throat. Have your child take a warm bath if he or she is complaining of muscles aches. For stuffiness, the steam from a hot shower can help.

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If your child is feeling under the weather, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have kid-friendly physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

Identifying The Flu In Young Children

iStock-533072795.jpgIt can be tough to tell what is wrong with young children when they’re suffering from an illness. Many sicknesses have very similar symptoms, making it easy to incorrectly diagnose your child. Two of the most easily confusable illnesses are the common cold and the flu. To help determine if your child has come down with the flu, compare the symptoms below:

  • If the onset of your child’s illness was sudden and not slow, there’s a greater chance it’s the flu instead of a cold.
  • A high fever is a strong symptom of the flu. Mild fevers may be symptomatic of something else.
  • A decrease in appetite is a tell tale sign that your child is suffering from the flu.
  • Achy muscles, a headache and chills are also a strong sign of the flu.

Other illnesses that can share similar symptoms include strep throat and pneumonia. If your child begins to have difficulty breathing, begins to seem confused or has a headache that continues to worsen, he or she should be taken to a medical facility immediately.

When young children are suffering from the flu, they will feel sluggish and suffer from fatigue. A doctor will likely recommend your child get plenty of fluids and rest. One way to prevent your child from catching the flu is to take him or her to get a flu vaccine. It’s also a good idea to teach your child to avoid sharing food and drinks with other kids in their class, as this is one of the key ways the flu is spread.

If you believe your child may be suffering from the flu, consider taking him or her to a doctor as soon as possible. At Medical City Children’s Urgent Care our technicians are highly qualified and will treat your child with the utmost care. Be sure to check in online so you can wait from home!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

Signs and Symptoms: Flu Versus Cold

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While the initial symptoms can seem very similar, the cold and the flu are two very different illnesses. A cold is more of a mild, respiratory illness, while the flu is something that will keep you down and out for weeks. The flu can also result in complications like pneumonia and hospitalizations. To better understand the difference between the cold and the flu, here are the symptoms you’ll experience.

Symptoms of the cold

  • Sore throat which goes away within two days
  • Nasal symptoms: runny nose and congestion
  • A cough towards the end of the illness
  • Fever is possible, but unlikely

Symptoms of the flu

  • Cold-like symptoms, including sore throat, congestion and cough
  • Muscle aches and soreness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Cold symptoms typically last around a week, with the first three days being the most contagious. During those first few days, it’s important to stay at home. If your cold symptoms persist for more than a week, check with your doctor to determine if you’ve developed an allergy or sinusitis.

For the flu, symptoms are more intense, but last only two to five days. However, because of the intense symptoms, you may feel run down for more than a week. If you begin to notice shortness of breath alongside your flu symptoms, seek medical attention immediately as this could be a sign of pneumonia.

To prevent both the cold and the flu, wash your hands as often as possible. You should also avoid close contact with anyone displaying symptoms of either illness. For the flu, you can also get the annual flu vaccine to prevent getting sick.

If you believe your child have symptoms of either the cold or the flu, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor. At Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care, our doctors are highly qualified and will treat your child with the utmost care. You can even check in online at medicalcityurgentcare.com!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

When To Keep Your Sick Child Home

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Whether your child is sniffling, coughing or complaining of a sore throat, there’s a chance they’re contagious. If your child has just come down with symptoms and you’re unsure what the illness is, there are a few things to keep an eye on to determine whether or not your child should go to school or daycare.

Fever

When your child has a fever, it’s a sign he or she is fighting the germs that are making them sick. If your child’s fever is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, they should be kept at home until the fever has subsided for at least 24 hours.

Diarrhea

Resulting from an infection, food poisoning or antibiotics, diarrhea can lead to dehydration if enough fluids are not consumed. If your child is suffering from diarrhea, he or she should be kept home until their stool is solid.

Vomiting

Another way for your child’s body to rid itself of germs, diarrhea is normally caused by a stomach virus or infection. Keep your child at home if he or she has vomited more than two times in the last 24 hours. He or she should also not return until the symptoms have completely cleared up. 

Cough

A serious cough may be symptomatic of whooping cough, viral bronchitis or croup. It may also be a sign of asthma or allergies. Because a cough can be contagious, your child should be kept at home when displaying this symptom.

Sore Throat

If your child has a sore throat, there’s a possibility it’s the common cold or strep throat. For a mild sore throat, it’s OK for your child to go to school; however, if he or she has been diagnosed with strep throat, they should be kept at home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics.

If your child is displaying any of the above symptoms, they should see a doctor. Consider Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care for qualified, efficient care. At Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care, our technicians are highly qualified and will treat your child with the utmost care. You can even check in online at medicalcityurgentcare.com!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

When to Seek Medical Treatment for a Cold

Little girl having flue or allergyThey call it the common cold for a reason: it’s common. Unfortunately, most of us will suffer from a cold at some point in our life. Because the common cold currently has no cure, it must be ridden out with time. However, for children, it’s important to keep an eye on symptoms and seek medical treatment immediately if they become severe.

If your child experiences any of the following symptoms when he or she has a cold, you need to take them to a doctor to rule out a more serious illness.

  • Extreme sweating
  • Shaking chills
  • Aching muscles
  • Uneasy, nauseous feeling
  • Vomiting
  • Fever higher than 102 degrees

If symptoms are severe enough for your child to visit a doctor, he or she can typically be diagnosed with a simple physical examination, with no blood tests or X-rays needed. A doctor will take a look at the eyes, ears, throat and chest to determine if bacteria is causing the illness.

While it’s important to see a doctor if symptoms are severe to rule out a more serious illness, unfortunately, there are few things a doctor can do to treat a cold. An antibiotic may be prescribed to kill bacteria, but will have no effect on the virus that usually causes the cold.

To help prevent your child from catching a cold, make sure he or she is washing their hands frequently and is keeping their hands away from the nose, mouth and eyes. Also, explain to your child how sharing utensils, drinks and other chapstick with friends can spread illness-causing germs.

If you child is suffering from cold-like symptoms that are severe and persistent, visit your closest Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care to speak with a trained health expert who can help. Designed exclusively to meet the needs of children, Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care provides quick, efficient service so you can avoid the typical hassle of a doctor’s visit. And be sure to check in online to avoid the waiting room.