Finally we are going to start the “Medical Mondays” while someone helps me tidy up my blog. My husband is a practicing pediatrician and has some advice to share about the flu to keep your kids safe.
“Am I going to die?”
In the middle of my third year of residency, one of my fellow residents was asked this question from an athletic and previously healthy elementary school aged girl. My colleague answered her with a calming “No” and then fought hard as an illness overwhelmed this patient. This young lady had been brought to the ER by her parents secondary to her chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. She was admitted to the Pediatric ICU, and started on oxygen, fluids, antibiotics, and a host of tests. The only test that came back positive was for influenza; all other tests were negative. Over the course of the next 72 hours her lungs “whited out” on X-rays that were being taken every 6-12 hours to monitor visually what our ears and machines were revealing: all this despite being on a ventilator and having concentrated oxygen fill her lungs, she was unable to oxygenate her body and ultimately passed away. It was horrifying. How could a previously healthy child die from the flu?
The unfortunate reality is that influenza still can be the infectious cause that ends a life. Last year, over 145 children died from the flu and more than 200,000 people were hospitalized for complications from the flu. There are medications available to help decrease the severity and duration of influenza should someone get sick, but none of them are as effective at decreasing the severity and duration as well as helping an individual avoid getting sick altogether than the flu vaccine. I encourage all who are able to get the flu vaccine. You are dramatically decreasing your risk of illness by having you and your family immunized against the flu this season.
American Academy of Pediatrics article about flu