Flu season 2019: what parents need to know
By Sara Keli
If you haven’t already heard, flu season 2019 is a killer … literally. Experts are predicting this to be one of our worst flu seasons yet. And as parents, that is a little bit scary.
So how do you know the difference between a baby runny nose and the flu? How do you protect your family this flu season? And what should you be looking out for? Here is everything you need to know about flu 2019 to protect and care for your family.
The flu is more than just a cold
So often when people get a cold they say that they have the flu, but the flu is so much more than just a cold. Getting the flu will make you terribly unwell – far more sick than you would ever be with just a cold. And while infant cold medicine can help a baby with the symptoms of a cold, when they have the flu they will need more medical intervention.
The flu is a really serious illness that can – and does – kill, so protecting yourself and your little ones is really important. If anyone in your family does catch the flu, it is vital that you take precautions to prevent it from spreading and also ensure that you see a doctor immediately. Your doctor can also advise you on baby medicine and vitamins to help protect your little ones.
Immunisation is the best defence
The reality is that immunisation is the best defence against catching the flu. No, it will not protect you against every strain of the flu virus, but it will protect you against the most dangerous and common strains. And at the end of the day, any protection is better than none.
Immunisation also helps prevent the spread of the flu to the vulnerable people in our community such as young babies, the elderly and those who are unable to be immunised for whatever reason.
Babies can be immunised from six months, and pregnant women can also get vaccinated. Ask your doctor for details.
The flu affects strong and healthy people too
We aren’t talking about something that only affects people with weak immune systems: the flu does not discriminate who it affects. Many of the reported flu deaths in the media this year have been fit and healthy people who you would not expect to die from the flu.
If you have a young baby and you think they might have their first newborn cold, and it seems especially bad or escalates quickly, please see your doctor. It may just be a newborn cold, or it may be something more serious. If it is just a cold, you can use some baby cold medicine to help ease their discomfort while they are unwell.
Teach your kids good hygiene
It can be so difficult with young kids, but teaching them good hygiene can help protect them from the flu, and other viruses that may be going around.
Teach them simple things like covering their mouths when they cough and cough into their elbow or a tissue rather than their hands and to always wash their hands before they eat. Also discouraging them from rubbing their eyes too much or putting their hands in their mouth – obviously impossible with a little baby – will help.
What might look like a baby runny nose can actually be the flu. Here’s what to look out for:
- fever and chills
- abdominal and muscle aches and pains
- nausea and vomiting
- sore throat
The flu doesn’t present in the same way for every person, but it will often last longer than an average cold. If you get the flu you may have all of the above symptoms or just a few.
If you suspect that you or your children have the flu, you should seek medical assistance immediately.