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Flu Prevention and Care from a Family Nurse Practitioner

According to the Center for Disease Control the flu is widespread in 49 of the 50 U.S. states.  (Hawaii is the only state where influenza is not widespread).  We sat down with Jennifer Brandel, a Family Nurse Practitioner at Open Door Health Center in Mankato to get some tips for flu prevention and care.

Symptoms of Influenza

  • cough
  • high fever (102-103 degrees)
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion 
  • fatigue

The flu is spread through coughing, as well as via air droplets from breathing.  The flu differs from the common cold in that a cold comes on gradually and typically isn’t accompanied by a fever or extreme tiredness.    

The best way to prevent the flu from spreading

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Covering your cough
  • Plenty of rest
  • Good nutrition
  • Stay home if you are ill

Brandel stresses the importance of staying home (or keeping your children home) when sick.  She also suggests avoiding public play areas while flu activity is high.  Although the flu vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of flu, it can help minimize symptoms. It is not too late to get a flu vaccine.

What if someone in your home gets the flu?

The best thing you can do if one of your children (or yourself or partner) gets the flu is to keep them isolated from the rest of the family.  If your kids share a room, move one of them to another room or the couch while the other is sick. 

Other things you can do to help alleviate symptoms:

  • Tylenol or Ibuprofen (as directed) every 6 hours to reduce fever and body aches
  • Use a humidifier to help with chest congestion 
  • Take a steamy shower or bath
  • Stay hydrated, use pedialyte in young children
  • Continue good hand washing practices
  • Stay home and get plenty of rest

Jennifer Brandel, Family Nurse Practitioner, advises to watch young children closely especially their breathing.  She suggests doing your best to keep children’s nasal passages clear and cautions against bringing down a child’s fever too quickly.  

Flu season can cause anxiety and worry for parents.  We hope these tips for flu prevention and care were helpful and that your family stays healthy (or feels better soon!) this season.  




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