How Do I Prepare For Flu Season?
Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on Dec 9th 2019
Flu season is approaching, are you prepared?
With flu season starting up, it's important to know how you can help your little one stay healthy!
As flu season quickly approaches, now is the time to start preparing for the possibility of your little one getting a "bug". Diarrhea, vomiting, and fever can cause dehydration. This can be prevented by keeping an oral rehydration solution on hand that consists of specific amounts of water, certain types of carbohydrates, zinc, and the electrolytes (minerals) sodium, potassium and chloride needed to maintain balanced hydration. The careful composition of an oral electrolyte solution is designed to help the body maintain its water and electrolyte composition in the correct proportions for optimal health.
Only a physician can accurately diagnose dehydration, but parents and caretakers can watch for some obvious signs especially when it comes to infants and young children. The early signs of dehydration can include:
- Dry mouth
- Thirsty and drinks eagerly
- Few or no tears when crying
- Fussy behavior
- Fewer than 4 wet diapers per day or no wet diaper over 4 to 6 hours for infant
- No urination for 6 to 8 hours for children
- Soft spot on infant's head appears flatter than usual or is somewhat sunken
- Sunken eyes
- Lethargic behavior
A child's physician should be contacted immediately if any of these above signs are noted and especially critical if accompanied by any of the following signs:
- Green bile or blood-tinged vomit
- Any episode of vomiting in a newborn or vomiting for more than 24 hours in an infant or child
- Refusal to eat or drink anything for more than a few hours by an infant
- For infants and young children, not urinating or having a wet diaper in 4 to 6 hours and for older children, not urinating in 6 to 8 hours
- Abdominal pain that is severe
- Spiking fever higher than 102°F once or fever higher than 101°F for more than 3 days
- Behavior changes including lethargy or decreased responsiveness
Caution: Common household foods and beverages such as gelatin, juice, tea, soda, sports beverages i.e. Gatorade, rice water, coconut water and even plain water do not contain the appropriate amounts or balance of water or electrolytes. In fact, some of these beverages can worsen diarrhea and/or dehydration symptoms.
More on dehydration:
During any illness or hot climate activity where rapid dehydration can occur, water is not being adequately absorbed from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. This can occur during episodes of diarrhea, or when excess water is being eliminated from the body through fever, vomiting or sweating. A combination of sodium with glucose in the small intestine of the body promotes the absorption of water into the bloodstream, thus helping to keep the body hydrated. The balance of carbohydrate in an oral electrolyte solution is also important because if too much carbohydrate is introduced, diarrhea can worsen by moving water from the bloodstream into the intestinal tract and out of the body.
In addition to carbohydrates, the correct types and balance of minerals are needed in an oral electrolyte solution to optimize absorption. Common household beverages are not designed to have the proper amounts and balance of these minerals known as electrolytes. The electrolytes sodium, potassium, and chloride are mineral chemical ions. These ions acquire the capacity to conduct electricity. The balance of these electrolytes in the body is essential for the normal functioning of the natural electrical currents between cells and organs. Pure water and common household beverages do not contain the right amount or balance of these important electrolytes to treat or prevent dehydration.
A trip to the store in the middle of the night to pick up a bottle of an oral electrolyte solution is no fun when your little one is sick. So plan ahead by having electrolytes on hand as the dreadful flu season approaches!
As always, let me know what questions you may have in the comments section below!
**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional