It's official. The flu has hit Virginia. Hard. School systems, daycares, really any public place is reaming with viruses. Educating your children about the importance of hand-washing. Pretty much after everything during this time of the year and carrying some antibacterial with you can’t hurt.
The Department of Health defines the flu virus symptoms to include: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue, chills, diarrhea, vomiting. Remember, each case is individual so don’t expect every symptom to be present with diagnosis of the flu.
For those suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, following the BRAT diet might be beneficial. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Obviously this is just an idea, but often food items with too much taste (salty, sweet, spice, what-have-you) can irritate an otherwise empty system. Tread lightly. Keeping a small stock of some of these necessities might come handy during this time of the year, in case it becomes a house-wide issue and running out to the store seems to be out of the question. Some re-hydrating beverages, saltines, applesauce, and whatever else you or your kids might find tolerable can’t help. And come spring or summer and it turns out your flu kit wasn’t needed – kudos to you! Treat yourself with a Gatorade and saltine feast!
Dehydration is very important to monitor. Even without the presence of vomiting or diarrhea, an individual can feel too terrible that taking the time to sit up and sip some liquids is work. Water is obviously a good choice, but something with electrolytes is usually recommended, like Pedialyte or Gatorade. Both can be diluted to suppress flavor and for those having issues tolerating flavors, Pedialyte comes as an unflavored option. Store brand options of both are also great – for both the sick kid as well as the wallet! Remember, that a headache can be attributed to the flu, but after prolonged poor fluid intake, that headache can be prolonged as a side effect of dehydration.
Remember, you or your children should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. This means without relying on medications like ibuprofen for the fever’s absence. If at all possible, contain those with the flu in your house – kind of like a safe room, but for those with the flu. A sick room, we’ll call it. With this room, make sure that after the flu virus has passed all hard surfaces should be disinfected. Wash all towels, blankets, sheets or other laundry. Also, it usually a pretty safe bet to toss their toothbrush and just start fresh!
It’s still not too late to get the flu shot to avoid all of this drama - your local pediatrician or pharmacist can administer it. Children under the age of 5 are at high risk for flu related complications, as well as adults over 65, pregnant women, morbidly obese individuals and those with chronic conditions.