The Dreaded Flu Season

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Flu Season Already?

It may still be 90 degrees outside, but flu season is just around the corner. In fact, cases are already showing up in our area.

Emergency physicians at Children’s of Alabama are encouraging parents and caregivers to get their flu shots and make sure children in their care are vaccinated, too. My children and I have already been vaccinated. I’m crossing my fingers we don’t have a repeat of last spring when our entire family came down with the flu right before vacation.

What You Can Do

“There are several things parents can teach their children to reduce the likelihood of contracting the flu or a cold that has flu-related symptoms,” said Dr. Kathy Monroe, a professor of pediatrics at UAB and the Medical Director of the Children’s of Alabama Emergency Department. (hand-washing, covering your mouth when sneezing, hand sanitizer, etc.)

Children should get a flu shot. Secondly, during flu season, if your child exhibits flu-like symptoms–like fever, muscle aches, or a cough–keep them home to rest and not spread germs to classmates and teachers. We recommend contacting your child’s regular physician by telephone. Often, visiting a doctor’s office is not necessary.”

When To Stay Home

Children’s treated 73,403 patients in its Emergency Department (ED) last year, an average of more than 200 a day. Physicians at Children’s remind parents that with that kind of volume, visiting an emergency room can be counter-productive if you have a non-urgent concern like flu symptoms. Visiting an ED with the flu also exposes children with underlying conditions who can’t fight infection as well as others.

When to See Your Pediatrician

Children with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, sickle cell disease, diabetes, cancer, etc) are at higher risk of the complications from the flu such as pneumonia and dehydration. If our child has one of these conditions, you should contact your pediatrician early in the course of a flu like illness.

When To Get To The Emergency Room

Monroe said children who are laboring to breathe or showing signs of dehydration (such as a low urine output) need treatment right away. “Certainly we advise visiting an emergency room if your child is experiencing respiratory distress or has dehydration,” she said. Monroe adds that both Children’s and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children be in the care of a primary care physician (pediatrician or family practice physician).

For more information about when to visit an emergency room, visit


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