Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Play
406 views in 6 months
Fight the Flu

The Facts About Flu Season

Daily Dose

Dog Flu Is Going Around

1:15 to read

Funny time of year for me to be blogging about flu?  Well, now it is “dog flu” that has been spreading across the United States.  Dog flu is caused by an influenza virus and is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. There have not been any reported human infections with either of the viruses that cause dog flu.  The viruses are also of the Influenza A variety and cause symptoms similar to those seen in humans including cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy and at times severe respiratory symptoms including pneumonia. Sadly, there have been dog deaths reported due to this infection. 

Because dog flu is a fairly new virus now being seen in the United States, most dogs have never been exposed to this virus.  Due to this, just like new influenza types in humans, most dogs that are exposed (about 80%) may develop dog flu but remember most will have mild symptoms and just require supportive care including extra fluids and rest.

If you are concerned that your dog may be showing signs of dog flu there is a test that your vet may administer ( just like we do flu tests for kids!). Extremely ill dogs, especially young puppies or pregnant dogs may have a harder time handing the virus ( again, does this sound familiar?).

But, the main thing to know is that this flu is not being seen in humans.  There is a vaccine for one of the types of dog flu and the veterinary community it working on other vaccines.

So, no need to worry about the kids and their pet dog!!  Just like your children make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccines, gets a healthy diet, exercises daily, has enough sleep and enjoys lots of family time too. But,  this is a good time to remember that human flu vaccine will begin to be available by the end of the summer. But don’t worry, I will remind you! 

Daily Dose

The Flu is Starting to Arrive

We are just starting to see influenza in the office and there currently seems to be more Influenza A in our area and a smattering of Influenza B. The flu "looks" the same this year, with fever, body aches, sore throat, cough and fatigue. For the verbal patients they all comment that they just "feel like I have been hit by a truck" and that is a big truck. Flu in younger children is sometimes harder to diagnose, as the toddler set often tolerates a fever and body aches a little better than older children, at least in terms of complaints.

Then new problem with flu this year is that this "smart" virus is showing resistance to antiviral drugs that we have previously used to help prevent the spread of the flu among family members and also to shorten the course of the illness in the patient. Many of the Influenza A pockets around the country are showing drug resistance, much more prevalent than ever before and that is a cause for concern. So, bottom line, it is imperative to get a flu shot and hope that we can all just skip the flu this year, and head to spring. That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow.

Tags: 
Daily Dose

Colds & Suctioning Your Child's Nose

1:30 to read

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but we are in the throes of cold and flu season and unfortunately there are a few more months of this.  As every parent knows, colds (aka upper respiratory infections) are “age neutral”. 

In other words, there is not an age group that is immune to getting a cold and for every age child (and adult for that matter), the symptoms are the same. Congested nostrils, scratchy sore throat, cough, and just plain old feeling “yucky”. When an infant gets a stuffy nose, whether it is from “normal” newborn congestion, or from a cold, they often have a difficult time eating as an infant is a nose breather.  When they are nursing and their nose is “stopped  up”, they cannot breath or even eat, so it is sometimes necessary to clear their nasal passage to allow them to “suck” on the bottle or breast. 

Of course it is self evident that an infant cannot blow their nose, or rub or pick their nose so they must either be fortunate enough to sneeze those” boogers” out or have another means to clear the nose.  This is typically accomplished by using that wonderful “bulb syringe”. In our area they are called “blue bulb syringes” and every baby leaves the hospital with one tucked into their discharge pack.  As a new parent the blue bulb syringe looked daunting as the tip of the syringe appeared to be bigger than the baby’s nose.  But, if you have ever watched a seasoned nurse suck out a newborn’s nose, they can somehow manage to get the entire tip inside a baby’s nose. For the rest of us the tip just seemed to get inside the nostril and despite my best efforts at suctioning nothing came out. Once a nurse showed me the right “technique” I got to be a pretty good “suctioner”.  With the addition of a little nasal saline, which you can buy in pre made spray bottles, or which may be made at home with table salt and warm water, the suctioning gets a little easier as the nose drops helped to suction the mucous.

Now, I have become a firm believer that there is a place for suctioning a baby’s nose, but once a child is over about 6 months of age they KNOW  what you are getting ready to do. I am convinced that a 6 month baby with a cold sees the “blue bulb syringe” approaching their face and their eyes become dilated in fear of being suctioned!!  Then they begin to wail, and I know that when I cry I just make more mucous and the more I cry the more I make. So a baby with an already stuffy nose gets even more congested and “snotty” and the bulb syringe is only on an approach to their nose. It also takes at least two people to suction out a 6 – 12 month old baby’s nose as they can now purposely move away , and hit out to you to keep you away from their face and nose. It is like they are saying, “ I am not going to give in to the bulb syringe” without a fight! I swore I would not have a child with a “green runny nose” that was not suctioned.

As most parents know, don’t swear about anything, or you will be forever breaking unreasonable promises to yourself!  I think bulb suctioning is best for young infant’s and once they start to cry and put up a fight I would use other methods to help clear those congested noses.  Go back to the age old sitting in a bathroom which has been steamed up with hot water from a the shower. Or try a cool mist humidifier with some vapor rub in the mist (aroma therapy).  Those noses will ultimately run and the Kleenex will come out for perpetual wiping. Unfortunately, it takes most children many years before they learn to blow their nose, but what an accomplishment that is!!!  An important milestone for sure.

That's your daily dose for today. We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Your Child

Yearly Flu Shot Could Stop Most Flu-Related Deaths in Kids

2:00

A simple yearly flu shot could prevent most flu-related deaths in children, according to a new study.

While the flu season is winding down, research shows that parents need to remember the benefits flu shots offer, when it rolls around again next fall.

Scientists found that about three-quarters of U.S. kids who died of flu complications between 2010 and 2014 were unvaccinated before they fell ill.

If all children got their yearly flu shot, 65 percent of those deaths could be prevented, the researchers estimated.

Experts said the findings support what health officials already recommend; adults and children age 6 months and up should be vaccinated ahead of every flu season.

It’s not a common occurrence, but children can die of the flu. When it does happen, "it's a tragedy," said Brendan Flannery, a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who led the study.

"People often don't consider the flu to be very serious," Flannery said. "But it can be, and even children can die."

Healthy kids can become seriously ill and develop complications such as pneumonia. The risk is higher among children with certain medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

Flannery's team found that a flu shot could cut the risk of death among both healthy kids and those with "high-risk" medical conditions.

The findings are based on 358 children and teenagers who died of a flu infection that was confirmed by laboratory testing, over four flu seasons. Only one-quarter had been vaccinated -- though the rate was higher among kids with underlying medical conditions.

Of 153 children with high-risk conditions, 31 percent had gotten a flu shot.

The researchers then compared those kids with three large groups of U.S. children whose flu vaccination rates had been tracked. Overall, 48 percent of these children had been vaccinated for flu, the study found.

On average, the CDC team estimated, 65 percent of flu-related deaths could be prevented if all U.S. kids got their yearly flu shot. Among children with high-risk medical conditions, the vaccine could cut the risk of death in half.

While the flu vaccine isn’t foolproof, it typically reduces the risk of getting the flu or makes it less severe. The flu vaccine has to be reformulated each year, depending on the most dominant strain of virus.

"With an imperfect vaccine, we'll still see deaths from the flu," Flannery said. "But vaccination does reduce the risk."

Despite that, many U.S. children -- even those with high-risk medical conditions -- go unvaccinated.

One likely reason, Offit said, is that it's a yearly shot. That makes it inconvenient, he noted -- but also, to some people, "implies that it's not very good."

Flannery agreed that some people believe the flu shot does not work. To some extent, he said, that's due to uncertainty about what the flu is: Some people confuse it with the common cold, or even a stomach infection. If they fall ill with those infections after getting a flu shot, they think the vaccine didn't work.

The flu vaccine can help prevent hospitalizations, time off work for parents and a lot of misery for the kids, Flannery noted.

In addition, some parents worry about the vaccine's safety, particularly if their child has a chronic health condition.

But, Flannery stressed, "the vaccine is recommended for children with high-risk medical conditions because it is safe."

In the U.S., flu season usually runs between October and April.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, https://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/most-u-s-kids-who-die-from-flu-are-unvaccinated-721195.html

 

Daily Dose

Do Essential Oils Boost Immune System?

1.30 to read

Although it is still hot and officially summer, soon everyone will be heading back to school  and coughs and colds (and eventually flu, another topic) will be just around the corner. I had a patient ask me about the use of essential oils. Her 2 1/2 year old daughter is heading to preschool for the first time and she “had heard from her friends that essential oils help a child’s immunity during cold season”.

Unfortunately, there is very little data at all to confirm that statement. I only wish that rubbing a bit of lavender oil on would help prevent the common cold. While it may smell great and be relaxing....there is no data that I can find to show that there is any reproducible science to the claims that essential oils boost the immune system.  

While I was researching I found many sites stating that “eucalyptus oil is an anti-viral” and “peppermint oil is an anti-pyretic (fever reducer)”.  Tea tree oil is touted as being “both anti -bacterial and anti-fungal” (I don’t know of other drugs that can claim both!).  But, I just don’t see any data to support all of this. 

The word essential refers to the essence of the plant the oil is derived from, rather than being “essential” to your health. While in most cases essential oils (which are highly concentrated) used as aromatherapy are not harmful for adults, it may be a different story in children, especially those under the age of 6. While labels may say  “natural” it may not always mean safe.  Many oils are poisonous if ingested and there have been reports of accidental overdoses in children with several different oils. In one report tea tree oil and lavender oil applied topically have been shown to cause breast enlargement in boys.  Oil of eucalyptus and peppermint are high in menthol and cineole.  These substances may cause children to become drowsy have decreased respirations.  While there are articles stating that the use of menthol (Vicks) on a child’s feet may be helpful during a cold for reducing a cough, do not use this if child is young enough to put their feet in their mouths. 

I must say that I sometime use a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the shower when I have a cold as I think it smells great and seems to help “open up” my head. Whether this is in “my mind” or a response from my olfactory centers which sends calming messages to respiratory center is not clear. But, I am not ingesting it or using it topically. 

 

 

Daily Dose

Protecting Your New Bundle of Joy

When I see newborns in my office this fall I am already thinking into the winter season ahead.

As I see new parents in my office this fall, bringing in that most precious newborn for their first pediatric visit, I am already thinking into the winter season ahead. Infants born during fall and winter are exposed to more upper respiratory viruses and flu in their first six months of life. Infants under six months of age are at more risk of complications from viruses like RSV and flu. Unfortunately, infants under six months cannot receive flu vaccine.

But a recent study showed that mothers who received a flu vaccine during pregnancy reduced influenza illness in their newborns. That study is important in reminding pregnant mothers of the importance of receiving flu vaccine during their pregnancy. Unfortunately, in my practice, I do not see this information being given to pregnant mothers while they are in for their OB visits. It is also important that new parents are vaccinated against whooping cough with a newer vaccine which is given to adults called a TDaP. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant this winter discuss these vaccines with your obstetrician. If they do not have the vaccines in their office, your local health department has them. The best way to protect that new bundle of joy is by immunizing those around them. This would also apply to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Spread the word about flu vaccine and TDaP and not the germs. That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow!

Daily Dose

Airborne & Your Kids

1.45 to read

It’s cold & flu season and I have already been receiving emails from parents asking what works/doesn’t work.  I reviewed a recent note from a well-meaning dad asking if he could give his 3 year old son Airborne to help “offset colds”. 

I myself have just recovered from my first cold of the “season” and have looked high and low for ANYTHING that might prevent or treat the common cold. As I tell my own patients on a daily basis, if I had the “magic pill” I would certainly not only manufacture it to distribute to everyone, but I would also be getting ready to accept Nobel Prize in medicine for solving the mystery of preventing the common cold!!  Airborne is NOT the magic potion and I see no reason to use it period.

I recently did an extensive review of complementary and alternative medicine for the common cold (selfishly trying to cure myself) and once again came up empty handed for any proven remedies. There are still a lot of ongoing studies (someone will win the Nobel Prize one day), but nothing so far has really proven to be the panacea.

Many people “swear” by Airborne.  I am just not sure what they are thinking it does. If you read their website it states, “there are scientific studies that the ingredients in Airborne have been shown to support the immune system”. I can’t find those studies anywhere. 

In 2008 a class action suit against Airborne resulted in a $23 million dollar fine for “misleading consumers and making false claims”, when Airborne claimed to “ward off colds”. They have now changed their advertising to the wording, “boosting the immune system” which also seems like deceptive advertising to me. Regardless, they continue to make millions (despite that huge fine).  My mother even called to say she thought she might take some before flying to visit at Thanksgiving asking, “did I think that would help her from getting sick?” OMG!

The ingredients in Airborne include Zinc, ginger, Echinacea, vitamins, minerals, and herbs.  This is what I commonly call “hocus pocus”.  Many of the ingredients in Airborne have been studied for use during a cold, without a lot of success.  Zinc is still being studied with varying outcomes, but there are still no definitive guidelines on using Zinc for a cold. Stay tuned for more as more studies are completed.

In the meantime, the answer to the email is NO; I would not give a 3 year old Airborne. What I would do is make sure that your child is getting nutritious meals, adequate sleep and that they learn to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough (hand hygiene). I would put the money you would spend on Airborne in their piggy bank for future college expenses.   I would also make sure to get your child their Flu vaccine. We do have data that vaccines work!

That’s’ your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Fight The Flu

1:30 to read

Although it has been a “lite” flu season to date, there are still at least 6 - 8 weeks left in the typical influenza season…so it is not yet time to forget about the flu.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu is by making sure that you have a yearly flu vaccine. While some patients come in and say, “I already had a flu shot”, they are talking about a shot they received more than a year ago…but remember that the flu vaccine changes every year.  The reason for this is that the circulating strains of influenza change each year, so the vaccine changes as well.

Epidemiologists are the experts that study the types of circulating influenza viruses and then decide (along with many others) the strains of influenza which will make up each year’s flu vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine has been a good match for the currently circulating influenza types and the CDC has reported up to 60% protection from the flu shot.  So, if you have not yet had a vaccine it really is never too late, and with the vaccine being a good match I would run out and get mine. (which I had back in October!)

The flu vaccine is especially important in families with young children. It is recommended that all children 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine.  If your child is 8 years or younger and it is the first time they are receiving a flu vaccine (whether injected or nasal), they will need to have two vaccines separated by at least 4 weeks.You can get this second vaccine as late as April, May, June as long as there is vaccine available….don’t forget!  The following year they will only need to have 1 flu vaccine.  Ask your pediatrician if you are not certain if you need a 2nd vaccine.

If you have a new baby in the house, or are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, God parent etc. of a newborn it is very important that you have had your flu vaccine.  Children under the age of 6 months cannot receive a flu vaccine but they are quite susceptible to getting the flu and are also more likely to have complications from influenza, including the need for hospitalization. By protecting those around them ( the herd ) you are protecting that precious newborn. Many grandparents accompany their grand baby to the first few pediatric visits and we try to “stick them” while they are there, as too many of them also say to me, “I’ve never had a flu shot before…so why now?”.

The best protection against the flu?  Get your flu vaccine, wash your hands, teach your children good cough hygiene (cover their mouths with the crook of their arm rather than their hands), and if you or your children do happen to get sick…stay home until you  are fever free for at least 24 hours.  

Tags: 

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Bill Gates has a few thoughts on kids & tech.

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.