Doctors prescribe high fever and dehydration

Doctors prescribe high fever and dehydration

This flu season looks like it will be very dangerous for children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that 47 children and teens have died this season so far from the flu, an alarming toll that experts say puts the United States on track with what we saw last flu season, a particularly bad season for children that ended… With the death of 183 children.

“We will likely at least meet or exceed that,” said Dr. Andy Shen, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “We are experiencing a very notable season in terms of deaths.”

The increase in child deaths comes amid an apparent slowdown in influenza activity.

On Friday, the CDC reported that for the second week in a row, the number of people hospitalized with influenza decreased slightly.

However, the virus continues to spread at “elevated” levels in most parts of the country, and the agency warned that it is too early to say the season has peaked as it continues to monitor another potential spike in spread.

An estimated 180,000 people have been hospitalized so far this season, and 11,000 people have died.

Influenza A, especially H1N1, accounts for the majority of cases, although influenza B, which is often more serious in children, has also been reported.

Flu symptoms that doctors see in children this season

The majority of children she sees with the flu have a high fever, as high as 103 or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, for up to a week, said Dr. Callie Broussard, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital for Women and Children in Lafayette, Louisiana.

“This year, it seems to be prolonged fever, dehydration and poor appetite that are affecting children,” Broussard said.

Children may also suffer from sore throat, runny nose, chills and severe body aches, said Samia Qadri, a family nurse practitioner at Banner Urgent Care in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Some come with one or two of these symptoms. Others come with all of those symptoms,” Qadri said.

Flu patients generally have one thing in common, she said: “It’s about how quickly the virus hits you. If it hits you hard and fast, it’s probably the flu.”

Sometimes, children develop a severe and painful type of muscle inflammation called polymyositis. They may feel like they can’t walk, and sometimes they just want to be carried, Broussard said.

“It’s a relatively uncommon side effect of the flu,” Broussard said. Adding that it tends to be more common in males and in patients with influenza B. It is estimated that it can affect up to 20% of children during seasons when influenza B is widespread. It usually resolves within a few days.

But it’s dehydration that can send a child to the hospital with the flu. Broussard said the following signs of dehydration require a doctor’s attention:

  • Sunken eyes.
  • Crying that does not produce tears.
  • Infants and young children who stop drooling as much as they normally do.
  • Saliva that becomes thick.

An annual influenza vaccine is recommended for pregnant women and children starting at 6 months of age. Doctors say there’s still time to get that shot this year. Although there is no guarantee that the vaccine will protect against infection, it can help reduce the severity of the disease.

Unvaccinated children are often sicker, said Kadri of Banner Urgent Care in Phoenix. “I find them sick much more than my children who have been vaccinated.”

revision (January 19, 2024, 5:08 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the gender most affected by myositis. It is more common in males than females.


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