Swin Flu: What you Need to Know (part 2)
Currently, no medicine is specifically developed to prevent or treat this new strain of swine flu, but it does appear that some of the antiviral medicines used to treat common seasonal flu may ease symptoms and shorten the duration of illness.
Kids without chronic health conditions usually tolerate infection with flu viruses fairly well. But if your child does have a chronic condition, like asthma, make sure to check with your doctor to help ensure the condition is under control.
Likewise, if you're pregnant and come down with flu symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has the flu, see a doctor right away. You may need to take antiviral medications as a precaution for yourself and your baby.
These at-home tips can help most otherwise healthy kids cope with the flu:
• drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
• get plenty of sleep and take it easy
• take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches (but do not give aspirin unless your doctor instructs you to do so)
• wear layers, since the flu often makes them cold one minute and hot the next (wearing layers — like a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and robe — makes it easy to add or subtract clothes as needed)
Remember to call a doctor if your child seems to get better but then feels worse, develops a high fever, has any trouble breathing, or seems confused.
Protecting Your Family
There is no vaccine against this strain of flu, although scientists should be able to develop one once they have analyzed the new virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that families take these precautions against swine flu:
• If you recently traveled to Mexico and now have flu symptoms, tell your doctor.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and put used tissues in the trash.
• If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
• Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing — wash with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaner.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Keep sick kids home from daycare or school and limit their contact with others; kids should stay home 10 days after the onset of illness.
Breastfeeding mothers who have the flu can continue breastfeeding, even if they're on antiviral medicines. But they may have to take additional precautions (like wearing a face mask) to reduce the risk to their baby.
Talk to your doctor about how you can help keep your baby healthy.
Talking to Kids
Listening to news reports about swine flu can upset kids because they may focus on worst-case scenarios. You can help ease their fears by being available to answer their questions.
You can tell kids that there's no need to panic about swine flu. The media and governments are on high alert to help limit the spread of the disease and help people who may become ill. The last flu pandemic that was serious enough to affect millions of people happened a century ago — before people had access to the medical knowledge, care, and medications that we have today.
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