KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Many local schools are closed due to flu and other illnesses for the rest of the week and the flu continues to fill doctors’ offices and hospitals across the region.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital has treated more than 1,100 flu patients since October.
Flu illness comes every year, but there are many myths about the illness and how to treat it.
Dr. Ryan Redman, ER director at Children’s Hospital, stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to clear up some of the confusion and debunk some flu myths.
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What to do if your child has the flu:
- Keep kids home when they are sick (closing schools is effective to give time for virus to die, but you should avoid socializing in the community if you are sick).
- Fluids and rest is best for most kids as they recover (a trip to the pediatrician’s office if they aren’t getting better is warranted).
- Bring child to ER if there is any trouble breathing, signs of dehydration or change in mental status.
Top 5 myths about the flu
Myth 1: You can catch flu from the vaccine
You cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
If you were already exposed and received vaccine, you can become sick. The vaccine takes two weeks to become effective. If you are vaccinated and still get the flu, the symptoms are usually milder.
Myth 2: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well
People who are infected are contagious from one day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone – usually in seven days.
Myth 3: You don’t need to get the flu shot every year
There are many different strains of the flu virus. Each year the CDC, using scientific data, makes an educated guess on the most likely flu strains which will be circulating and make the vaccine to protect against those strains.
Even during times when the vaccine doesn’t seem to be as effective, some protection is always better than none.
Myth 4: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated
Healthy people can and do die from complications of flu.
But, it’s also important to get a flu vaccine to protect others who aren’t able vaccinated like babies under 6 months of age.
Myth 5: “Feed a cold, starve a fever”
If you have the flu (or a cold) and a fever, you need more fluids.
Eat normally if you feel like it, but fluids are essential and poor nutrition will not help you get better.
More tips to combat the flu
Health professionals say handwashing is always their top tip, but you can also take this break from school to do clean and disinfect surfaces.
It’s also a great idea to wash those backpacks, coats, hats and scarves before they head back to class.
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