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H1N1 Influenza and Your Child
On September 10, 2009 @ 1:43 pm In
Like other flu viruses, H1N1 infects the respiratory system: the nose, throat and lungs.
The threat of the H1N1 virus to your child is twofold:
How serious is the flu?
Influenza (flu) can be very serious, especially for infants, children under five and people of any age who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma other lung problems, diabetes, heart disease or weakened immune systems.
It’s estimated that more than 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to flu each year in the U.S. Many more have to go to a doctor, an urgent care center or the emergency room because of flu.
Complications from the flu can include pneumonia (when the lungs get infected and inflamed), dehydration (when a child is too sick to drink enough fluids and the body loses too much water), worsening of long-term medical problems like heart disease or asthma, encephalopathy (inflammation of the brain), sinus problems and ear infections.
How does H1N1 spread?
People with the flu are usually contagious (able to spread germs) beginning one day before their symptoms appear and continuing 5-7 days after. This period may be longer with H1N1 and with children.
The virus spreads mostly from person to person –when you inhale germs from the coughs or sneezes of someone who is sick with influenza. You may also get sick by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
For children, the best way to prevent the spread of germs is to stay away from others who are sick and keep hands and toys (and anything else that might go in their mouths) clean.
Here are a few things you and your children can do to keep from sharing germs:
How can I protect my child against the flu?
The first thing you can do for a child with asthma is visit your healthcare provider and update the child’s written asthma action plan. Be sure you are following the recommended medication schedule and ask what you should do if your child develops flu symptoms. Also, update and refill all asthma medications, so you have them available if you need them.
The next thing to do is make sure your child gets both seasonal and H1N1 influenza vaccinations as soon as they are available, and that all family members and caregivers also get flu vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children 6 months up to their 5th birthday get a seasonal flu vaccination every fall. This vaccine is specially manufactured each year to match the type of seasonal flu that experts expect will appear in the U.S.
A vaccine against novel H1N1 flu is also being produced this year, scheduled to be available in the fall.
For full protection against influenza, children will need to get both vaccines. This may mean multiple injections, since young children may require two doses of the H1N1 vaccine (along with two doses of seasonal flu vaccine, if this is the child’s first flu vaccination). A nasal spray vaccine (FluMist®) is available for seasonal flu, but it is not recommended for people with asthma, as it has been known to cause bronchospasm.
What can I do if my child gets sick?
Symptoms of seasonal flu and H1N1 are similar: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some children also may have vomiting and diarrhea.
If your child is younger than 5 and develops flu-like symptoms, CDC recommends you call your healthcare provider or get medical attention as soon as possible.
Influenza is very different from the common cold. Typically, a child who has a fever and no nasal symptoms likely has influenza. A child who has no fever but significant nasal symptoms likely has a cold, not influenza.
Keep your sick child at home and away from other people. Don’t let him go to school or child care until he has been fever-free for 24 hours.
Take your child (of any age) to a doctor or emergency department right away if any one of the following applies:
Are infants at greater risk of catching H1N1 flu?
Yes, infants are thought to be at higher risk for severe illness from H1N1 than older children. And since flu vaccination is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age, parents and caregivers should take extra precautions to prevent exposing babies to flu.
Article printed from Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics: http://www.aanma.org
URL to article: http://www.aanma.org/faqs/welcome-to-precious-breathers/h1n1-influenza/
URLs in this post:
 How serious is the flu?: #How serious is the flu?
 How does H1N1 spread? : #How does H1N1 spread?
 How can I protect my child against the flu? : #How can I protect my child against the flu?
 What can I do if my child gets sick?: #What can I do if my child gets sick?
 Are infants at greater risk of catching H1N1 flu? : #Are infants at greater risk of catching H1N1 flu?
 How can I help my sick child feel better?: #How can I help my sick child feel better?
 What about day care? : #What about day care?
 respirator: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/masks.htm
 breastfeeding: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/infantfeeding.htm
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