Combating Influenza (Flu) In Children This Winter SeasonInfluenza (flu) is a highly contagious viral infection and is one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season. An estimated 5 to 20 percent of the population in the U.S. gets influenza each year. Influenza is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system, which includes the nose, bronchial tubes, and lungs. Influenza is characterized by fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and nonproductive cough.
Influenza can make people of any age ill. Although most people, including children, are ill with influenza for less than a week, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized.
"An influenza virus is generally passed from person to person by airborne transmission," says Roger Chen, M.D., board certified in Family Medicine, affiliated with Bayshore Community Hospital and Riverview Medical Center. "This means your child can contract the flu by coming in contact with airborne viruses from an affected person by way of sneezing and coughing. The virus can also live for a short time on objects such as doorknobs, pens/pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils, for example. Therefore, it may also be spread when your child touches something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then your child touches his or her own mouth, nose, or eyes."
People are generally the most contagious with the flu 24 hours before they start having symptoms and during the time they have the most symptoms. That is why it is hard to prevent the spread of the flu, especially among children, because they do not always know they are sick while they are still spreading the disease. The risk of infecting others usually stops around the seventh day of the infection.
"Specific treatment for influenza will be determined by your child's doctor based on several factors such as your child's age, overall health and medical history, your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, and the extent of the condition to name a few'" says Dr. Chen. "Although there is no cure for influenza, the goal of any treatment for influenza is to help prevent or decrease the severity of symptoms."
Dr. Chen can be reached at (732) 856-9293.
About Bayshore Community Hospital
Bayshore Community Hospital, a member of the Meridian Health Family, is a 211-bed not-for-profit community hospital located in Holmdel, New Jersey, providing health care programs and services in all major medical disciplines, including: emergency medicine, cardiac catheterization, surgical services, wound care, sleep services, diagnostic imaging, women's services with digital mammography, as well as a designated primary stroke center. Bayshore Community Hospital's newly developed Center for Bariatrics is one of the most comprehensive in the region offering free informational sessions, pre-surgical education and evaluation, personal guidance through the surgical process, nutritional support, exercise components and support groups. For more information visit www.bayshorehospital.org.