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Fall 2010
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Asthma and the Flu

How to Protect your Child

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When kids head back to school, it can be a very busy time of year for parents. Parents often worry about everything that must be done to make sure their children are prepared for school. While pens, pencils and paper may be top items on the shopping list, parents should also keep in mind the steps to take to ensure their children are protected from viruses like Influenza.

Influenza is more commonly referred to as "the flu." It is a virus that infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). Influenza is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through coughing and sneezing.

Having your child vaccinated against the flu every year is highly recommended to prevent your child from becoming ill with the flu and to safeguard your child's peers. The flu shot is required every year because the flu strain likes to mutate and each year's shot is designed specifically for a certain flu strain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu shots are extremely important if your child has asthma. Children with asthma are more likely to become extremely ill from the flu. Respiratory infections, such as the flu, can trigger an asthma attack for your child. Flu shots are the first step you can take to ensure your child is protected from the flu.

Parents should keep their children home from school if they are having any of the following symptoms: high fever, headaches and muscle aches, exhaustion, dry cough and a sore throat, along with a runny or stuffy nose. Parents should also contact the family pediatrician to make the doctor aware of the symptoms and determine the need for an office visit.

However, if your child experiences any of the following symptoms, please call your child's pediatrician and seek immediate medical attention:

  • Is breathing rapidly or has trouble breathing
  • Has a bluish or grey color to their skin tone
  • Is vomiting persistently and repeatedly
  • Is not interested in playing or interacting
  • Is not drinking enough fluids or urinating
  • Is unable to wake easily from sleep
  • Is so irritable or agitated they do not want to be held
  • Has flu symptoms that improve, then return accompanied by a worsening cough and fever

Enjoy the school year - have your child vaccinated against the flu and practice frequent hand-washing. If your child has asthma, also ensure that the school nurse has on-hand your child's quick-relief medication and a copy of your child's Asthma Action Plan. For information, contact the Seton Asthma Center at (512) 324-3320.

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Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.