The flu season is upon us. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports influenza activity is increasing across the United States. The number of confirmed flu cases in Michigan has also risen. For parents, it can be a dilemma to decide if your child should stay home from school when he or she is not feeling well.
“If you think you have the flu, don’t take chances. Stay home,” says Prashant V. Mahajan, M.D., division chief and research director of Emergency Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Michigan at the Detroit Medical Center.
Influenza flu is an illness that could make some people very sick and can, in rare cases, lead to death.
“It is estimated that each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized because of flu complications. Severe complications are more common in children younger than two years of age. Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are also at high risk of developing serious flu complications. We want to do our best to keep it from spreading around,” Dr. Mahajan says.
Symptoms of the flu are a fever plus one or more of these:
Some people with the flu also might have diarrhea or vomiting. If you have flu-like symptoms, home is where you should be.
By staying home from school (and away from crowds in general), you make it less likely that you will make other people sick. And if it turns out you do have the flu, rest at home is what you need to get better.
What to Do
Parents, these are good steps to tell your children to take if they feel sick:
1. Tell your mom or dad, so they can check you out. They might want to call your doctor to talk about whether you have the flu or some other sickness.
2. Stay home from school and other crowded places. Also, try not to make other people in your family sick. Do that by washing your hands often, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow — not into your hands! — and keeping your distance.
3. Get rest, drink plenty of fluids, and feel better fast. Be sure to tell your mom or dad how you’re feeling so they can take good care of you.
4. Return to school only when you’re feeling better, no longer coughing/sneezing, and you haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours.
Dr. Mahajan emphasizes that the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Families are encouraged to touch base with their pediatrician to receive a flu shot or nasal-spray vaccine to provide the best protection against the flu.
For those without insurance, visit www.childrensdmc.org/ImmunizationStation for resources on immunizations. For further information or to schedule an appointment with a pediatric specialist call (313) 745-KIDS or visit www.childrensdmc.org.