Back to School: Flu Season

With the summer months coming to an end and flu season approaching fast, it’s important to remind our children how to avoid getting sick this year!

There are some very common aliments that become prominent in schools specifically during the colder months; among the general population, the cold and flu are the most commonly contracted illnesses and are the least likely to be serious if properly treated.

The flu and cold are both viruses and their symptoms are very similar, however the duration of the two and the severity of the symptoms is the main tale-tale sign between the two.

According to the CDC’s website, the flu is more likely to cause an array of fever and chills, coughs, headaches, fatigue, and sore throat, however, the flu is less likely to cause a runny or stuffy nose compared to the cold. A cold typically presents with milder symptoms than the flu and generally symptom improvement will be seen about 24 to 72 hours after symptoms appear, rarely do colds last longer than a week. Flu symptoms on average will linger for one to two weeks with sever symptoms improving after a few days.

It is possible to remain contagious with the cold virus up to three weeks after the initial onset of symptoms with the first three days of symptom onset being the most contagious. The flu, however, is contagious from the first 24-72 hours after contraction and will generally remain contagious up to five days after the onset of symptoms.

The best way to avoid the cold and flu is to educate yourself and your children about proper hygiene. Hygiene is most conclusive way to avoid falling victim to or spreading an illness; hand washing, hand sanitizing, covering sneezes and coughs, eating healthy, sleeping enough, staying warm, and avoiding other sick people is a great start for being hygienic. If your child is recovering from a cold it’s good to remember that just because they’re improving doesn’t mean they aren’t still contagious- if possible, keeping them home from school for a couple extra days would be highly advised. Though there are no vaccines to the cold, the best way to avoid previous strains of the flu is with a flu shot.

Typically, the human body can flight off the cold and flu viruses on their own without any further treatment, however, never try to diagnose an illness on your own, you could be delaying proper treatment. If your doctor advises you that you are indeed suffering from a cold or flu, one of the best ways to a fast recovery is by taking it easy- your body needs rest in order to fight an infection. Neither the cold nor the flu can be treated with antibiotics since they are viruses and not bacteria, however, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral to lessen the duration of the illness.

Fun fact: viruses are so much smaller than bacteria that viruses can actually infect bacteria!

For more information regarding common illnesses and ways to treat and avoid them, you can contact your local doctors, nurses, or visit the CDC’s website.

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