Surviving Flu Season

Let's face it the news is pretty scary. There is the Coronavirus which is making its way into the United States and everywhere I look I hear another person who has the flu (including Hazel and me). This is also the time the stomach bug usually makes its rounds. Last February Hazel's school had to close for a day to get cleaned because the stomach bug was so rampant. Are there things we can do to protect our families and ourselves from these very contagious illnesses? Well yes and no. The first line of defense is hand washing. Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Teach your child(ren) to wash hands and sing "Happy Birthday to You" to themselves. They shouldn't stop washing until they finish the song. 

But wait, we just use hand sanitizer--who is saying this? Do you know that hand sanitizer is not as good as hand washing? It is better than nothing, but if you have a sink and soap wash those hands. (I have also been told by an allergist that hand sanitizer will not remove allergens from hands but hand washing will.) Want to see why hand washing is better? Check out this teacher's experiment and perhaps recreate in your home or classroom so your kids understand. If you have to go the hand sanitizer route, make sure it is at least 60% alcohol and rub it on your hands for at least 20 seconds (remember the song). 

Let's talk about some of the common bugs that go around this time of year and I have found information on how to know when to send them back to school or for you to return to work. If people actually follow these suggestions there will be many less sick people in our world.

Stomach Bug

The stomach bug is my least favorite illness. Let's face it you feel like you are dying. I hated getting it last year and of course it was made even worse that we were at a store having lunch 40 minutes from home when I got it. And it was the American Girl Store that was closing so it was Hazel's last chance to be there. But you know what? I know exactly when I let the germs in. I know what I did wrong. It was going around the school like crazy but I was avoiding it until I made the mistake at math club of eating a marshmallow that the kids hands had been in the bag. Big MISTAKE!! 

Things to know the stomach bug usually shows up between 12 to 48 hours after exposure and it can last up to 3 days. You can get it by touching someone infected with it or something they touched, eating food prepared by someone infected or by eating shellfish found in contaminated water or fruits and vegetables washed with contaminated water. And yes you can get it by breathing in the germs when they vomit near you. To avoid getting it wash your hands often and do not touch your face! Use your dishwasher instead of handwashing the dishes whenever possible. Wipe shopping cart handles and clean your countertops and surfaces with a disinfectant spray. 

Ok, some how you or your child got it. Now what? Well for the most part it is the waiting game of getting through it. You want to make sure you do not get dehydrated. Once you are able to keep something down try clear liquids: water, broth, decaffeinated soda, etc. When ready to try solid foods try the BRAT diet. BRAT means bananas, rice (white enriched not brown), applesauce and toast (white bread with nothing on it). Avoid fatty and sugary foods, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. These will make you feel worse. Now here is the most important thing!! Stay home for at least 48 hours after showing signs of vomiting or diarrhea. You are still contagious for at least 48 hours. My mother learned this the hard way. After my sisters had the stomach bug and were not showing signs of it and seemed to have energy she brought them to her father's house. Everyone who was there came down with the stomach bug within 24 hours. She felt so bad. So please, please stay home or keep them home for at least 48 hours after the vomiting and/or diarrhea stops! This is one of the reason I think it spreads so much. People go out when they start to feel good and spread the germs without even realizing it.

The Flu

On Friday Hazel was diagnosed with Influenza A. I was surprised. I really didn't think she had the flu but she had a high fever and sore throat and vomited once. I unfortunately developed a dry cough that worsened and then got a fever Saturday night. So we are hit with the flu at our house. On Friday I heard of two more people who got diagnosed with it as well. Plus my Facebook feed has been full of people having it this year. And yes we did get the flu shots. They are not working well (especially for children).

You want to avoid close contact and of course wash your hands often to prevent getting the flu. You should get the flu shot and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you get it you have to get through it. The doctor may give you a medicine but only if it is caught early enough and some people have pretty severe side effects. Hazel did so she didn't get past one dose.  Now we are waiting it out. For her to return to school she needs to be fever free for 24 hours (without the use of medicine). Her temperature is down but it is still a fever. I also found that the recommendation for kids is to keep them home until they are truly feeling better. They should not be in public if they are still vomiting, have diarrhea, have any kind of pain, isn't hungry or seems more tired than usual or more clingy than usual. If your child is showing one of these then he or she needs to stay home and not go to school or the playground, store, etc. Keep them home so you will not be the one to spread the flu. Remember there are people in the world that the flu can kill. The CDC estimates that during the 2018-2019 flu season 61,200 people died from the flu. Don't be the cause of this. Stay home when you have the flu!

Here is a simple visual to help you remember how long to stay home for some of the common illnesses this time of year. Please remember stay home or keep your kids home when sick so you do not spread the virus to others!!