2605 Blue Ridge Road, Suite 100 Raleigh, NC 27607(919) 881-9009

Some Thoughts on Flu

January 09, 2014
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Influenza season has begun in our community over the past few weeks, and we wanted to share some information about the flu with you. Flu season generally starts in November or December, and usually lasts until March or April, although this can vary a bit from year to year. This year's season started shortly before the Christmas holidays, and is now in full swing. If you haven't gotten a flu vaccine yet and would like to, we still have Flumist and flu shots available for patients - keep in mind that it usually takes about 2 weeks to develop immunity after the vaccine, and that both vaccines are about 70-80% effective during an average flu season. Early symptoms of the flu are usually abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. We are often asked about using antiviral medications like Tamiflu (oseltamivir). These medications can shorten the duration of the flu by a day or two, but they are not a cure, and they are not essential for treating most cases of mild to moderate influenza. They are also not effective if they are started more than 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. These medications can be most helpful in preventing serious disease in kids who have underlying immune problems, significant asthma, heart problems, diabetes, sickle cell disease, or certain other chronic health problems. Keep in mind that any child can develop bacterial complications after the flu (such as pneumonia or ear infections). Consider that your child may have one of these complications if he or she has a prolonged fever lasting longer than 5 days, seems very sick, seems to get worse after initially recovering from the flu, develops labored or heavy breathing, or otherwise seems sicker than you might expect. Please call us anytime if you are worried. For most kids, though, the best treatments for the flu today are probably the same ones your grandmother talked about - rest, fluids, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and maybe a good dose of chicken soup and TLC. Stay well out there (and we're there for you if you don't!)

Dr. Nechyba