Flu and Influenza-like-Illness
Flu or Not Flu?
Winter is a prime time for colds and flu. You can prevent them and other illnesses by simple handwashing. Wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds before you eat or touch your face. Hands carry a variety of germs, and they enter our bodies through touching our eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands after using the bathroom or cough or sneeze into a tissue. If your can't wash your hands with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer to kill the germs.
Stay home when you are sick. Going to school or work when you are sick spreads the germs to other healthy people. Students, even though you may have a test, presentation, or project due on a day you are not feeling well, stay home. You won't do your best during that activity and it is best to get well first. Stay home when you are sick.
Use the Flu Screening Tool for Parents and Caregivers in the Quick Links box to help determine if your child is well enough for school.
Protect yourself and your family from the flu:
- Get a flu shot. Flu shots provide immunity against the flu viruses. A flu shot can be given at any time before or during the flu season.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your upper arm if a tissue is not available. Throw away used tissues and wash your hands.
- Wash hands frequently. Use warm water and soap and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer.
- Don't touch your face. If you do need to touch your face, wash your hands first. Hands carry germs that may cause the flu so keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Get 7 to 8 hours (more for younger children) of sleep each night to help your body replenish and fight any germs.
- Eat nutritious foods. They help boost immunity to keep you healthy.
- Get moving. Exercise 3 or 4 days a week for at least 30 minutes which can help boost your body's natural ability to fight off infection and the flu.
- Use the flu screening tool to help you determine if your child is well enough for school.
Influenza is a common upper respiratory disease. It is not what is commonly referred to as "stomach flu," which causes vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms including fever, chills, coughing, headache, fatigue, sore throat and muscle aches. The symptoms are much more severe than with a common cold.
Call the doctor if you or your child has a persistent high fever, fever with a rash, trouble breathing or rapid breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, seem very sleepy or lethargic, seem confused, and have flu symptoms that get better but then get worse.
Stay home from school or work when you are ill. Students can return to school 24 hours after their fever is gone without fever-reducing medication and are feeling well enough to participate in school. Flu symptoms may last 5 to 7 days.
Stomach flu (not influenza which is a respiratory illness) is going around in our schools. Students have stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea, slight fevers and fatigue. Students should stay home for at least 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped.
Stomach flu is spread easily from person to person, so it is important to stay home while sick. It lasts anywhere from 1 to 2 days depending on the individual and the severity of the symptoms. If it lasts longer than that and you are concerned about your child's health, contact your health care provider.
Prevent the stomach flu by washing your hands frequently as it is spread by touching contaminated items. Prevent dehydration by offering small amounts of liquids frequently. Offer nutritious bland foods when vomiting or diarrhea has stopped and slowly work up to regular foods. If you are concerned about dehydration, contact your health care provider.
If your child has the stomach flu, call your school's attendance line to report this.
Strep throat can start suddenly with fever, red sore throat and swollen glands. In some children and adults, headache, nausea, stomach ache, and vomiting may be more common. A fine raised rash could also occur. It is contagious, and students need to stay home for 24 hours after treatment has begun. Antibiotics are given to treat strep throat.
Head lice are very small brownish-colored insects that live on the head. They lay their eggs (nits) close to the scalp. The eggs are gray or white in color. They are stuck to the hair like glue. Anyone can get head lice.
The symptoms of head lice are:
--itching of the head and neck.
--Look for: crawling lice in the hair. The eggs that are glued to the hair, often found behind the ears and at the back of the neck. Scratch marks from the itching they cause.
Lice are spread by direct head-to-head contact with the hair of an infested person. They can't jump or fly. They crawl and can fall off the head. Head lice do not live longer than 48 hours off the head. Eggs do not hatch if they fall off the head. Head lice feet are specially adapted for holding onto human hair. They would have difficulty attaching to smooth or slippery surfaces like plastic, metal, and similar materials.
If you find head lice in your child's hair, call your child's school and daycare to inform them. Treat your child for head lice using the product/method of your choice. Remove eggs (nits) daily. It takes at least 2 weeks to get rid of lice. If all nits within 1/2 inch of the scalp are not removed, some may hatch and your child will be infested again. Parents should check their children's hair weekly for head lice. Catching it early helps prevent the spread of lice to others.
Students who have lice must be treated before returning to school or daycare. No live lice are to be seen. Nits are not considered live lice. If you have questions, contact your child's school health office for more information.
Concussions are brain injuries. They are caused by a bump or blow to the head. Even a mild bump or blow can be serious.
Look for any of these symptoms: appears dazed or stunned, confusion, forgetful, moves clumsily, loses consciousness (even briefly), can't recall events prior to or after the injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, sensitivity to light or noise, and feels foggy.
Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional will be able to decide how serious the concussion is.
Keep your child out of play. Concussions take time to heal. Children who return to play too soon risk a greater chance of having a second concussion which can cause permanent brain damage. Tell your child's coach or teacher about any recent concussion. A plan will be developed as when your child can safely participate.
Adults and youth should know the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. Not all of these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. If you notice one or more of them, don't wait. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
--Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
--Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
--Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
--Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
Stroke Warning Signs
--Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
--Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
--Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
--Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
--Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
For more information, visit www.heart.org.