By Alexis Kramer, Assistant Director of Health Services,
Hutchinson Public Schools, ISD 423
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe symptoms, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent this illness is by getting a flu vaccination each fall. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever (usually high)
- Extreme tiredness
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Muscle ache
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults.
Influenza is spread from person to person, usually through coughing, sneezing, or touching someone or something with the flu virus. Most healthy adults and children may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. To help prevent the flu from spreading, educators, staff, and parents can help remind children to:
- Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze
- Wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing
- Remind them not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you are infected with the flu virus the most important thing to do is rest, increase fluids and stay away from others. Children may return to school 24 hours fever free without the use of oral medications.
The best single way to prevent the spread of the flu virus is to get the flu vaccination each fall from October and on. Anyone who wants to reduce their chance of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year. They are either people who are at high risk of serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications. If you have any questions about whether you should get a flu shot, consult with your health care professional.
Stay healthy and stay safe this flu season!
(n.d.). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/