We are dealing with a pretty frightening flu season here in San Diego. According to the County of San Diego Communications Office, we reached 91 deaths for the season at the beginning of January. The flu can stay active until March.
It’s a frightening scenario. I am a member of several local mommy forums, Facebook groups, etc., and the flu dominates much of the conversation these days. You likely already know a mama or a family suffering through chills, fever, and other uncomfortable symptoms. There are, of course, some very sweet and conscientious ways to help people already stricken with the disease.
On the off chance that you have not had to deal with the flu, however, you are probably pretty concerned about keeping it well away from your loved ones. I thought it might be worthwhile to talk about what works and what doesn’t work. I even roped in our beloved family pediatrician!
What Doesn’t Work (Officially):
Let’s start with what does not work.
Now, these may very well be strategies you employ because you believe they are working for you and your children. That is totally OK!
In fact, I’ll let you in on a funny little family secret. We have our fair share of folk cures, and that includes placing a cut onion underneath the bed of someone who is ailing. Yes, I know. There is zero scientific evidence that an onion is actually soaking up any bad juju. But late one night about a year ago, when my oldest was crying and feverish, I did it out of desperation. I had already given him medicine, and set up the humidifier, and applied Vick’s Baby VapoRub, and nursed, and rocked, and sang… I was out of options, and lord, was I tired.
In the morning, his fever had broken. His brow was cool and he had a smile and an appetite again. Did I believe the onion was responsible? Of course not. But maybe… just maybe…
We all know that every family is different, and every child is different. Your mama instincts are important, and I honor them. Even if you’re headed to the kitchen right now to slice up an onion.
Your doctor probably told you during one of your first wellness visits to pick up some Vitamin D. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under one year of age need 400 IU a day. It’s particularly important if they’re breastfed. Children above a year need 600 IU. The supplement helps to prevent rickets. However, “There is no evidence that Vitamin D helps with flu prevention,” says Dr. Gabriel Murillo MD, FAAP with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. (Dr. Murillo is our family pediatrician.)
There are 5-10 brands of children’s vitamins on the shelves at most of the stores we visit. We picked up a jar of Flintstones Gummies for my toddler a few weeks ago when it was clear the flu virus was picking up steam.
However, Dr. Murillo cautions restraint. He says that “mega doses of vitamins A, C, and D can produce toxic symptoms like nausea, headache and rashes.” He also says they have not been shown to be consistently helpful with flu prevention. Finally, they can also interact badly with certain medications. If your kid is generally healthy, they get the vitamins and supplements they need from food. If your doctor does say to try them out, pick ones specifically for your child’s age group and do not treat them like candy.
Elderberry Syrup (like Sambucol)
While I haven’t tried elderberry or black elderberry syrup with my children just yet, I see a lot of fellow mommies talking about trying it out. Dr. Murillo says Sambucol and other treatments derived from this plant are not backed up scientifically in preventing the flu. He does say, however, that eucalyptus can be helpful in fighting the common cold. Add a couple of drops to your child’s vaporizer to relieve symptoms like congestion.
What Does Work:
None of the home therapies and remedies mentioned above are backed by medicine in stopping the flu virus. But that does not mean there is nothing you can do. Far from it!
Keep Things Clean
Channel your inner Monica from Friends and get to work sanitizing your house from top to bottom. I always feel a little less frantic when the pad is clean, and it does go a long way in putting a halt to the spread of germs.
Take That Sick Day
Speaking of germs, no one at work wants what you are selling. If you are under the weather, stay home and get some rest. I feel like this advice should resonate in particular with moms: You have to take care of yourself first in order to take care of everyone else!
The Flu Shot (No, It’s Not Too Late)
Finally, our Dr. Murillo’s primary piece of advice: If you have not already, get the flu shot. “San Diego saw 101 flu-associated deaths during the 2016-2017 season,” says Dr. Murillo. “85% were not vaccinated.”
If you are immunocompromised, if you have children, if you are a caretaker, if you go out in public, ever: get it. “It saves lives!” says Dr. Murillo. The San Diego County Immunization Program also has a lovely little publication debunking flu shot myths to share with your family.
Stay healthy, my friends!
*Editor’s note: The opinions reflected in this blog post is held specifically by the contributing author. This blog post is intended simply to express one author’s personal perspective. San Diego Moms Blog highly respects all of the varying opinions of our contributors and readers and we kindly ask that all comments are respectful of the contributing author. Also, please consult with your own doctor before taking any medical advice.