Baylor Health Care SystemAbout B
 
Need something? Call us: 1.800.4BAYLOR(1.800.422.9567)
Text Size:

Ear, Nose and Throat 

Otolaryngologists, also called ear, nose and throat or ENT specialists, treat diseases and injuries affecting the ear, nose and throat, as well as the head and neck.  

Whether you're battling a balance disorder, having trouble hearing or simply sick of seasonal allergies, the ENT specialists on the medical staff at Baylor can help you or your family with treatment for many conditions.  

Call 1.800.4BAYLOR for a referral to a physician on the medical staff at one of our hospitals.

H1 N1 Virus - Eight Facts You

Get the information you need about the H1N1 virus.

Learn more

Influenza (Flu) in ChildrenInfluenza

Influenza (Flu) in Children

What is influenza?

Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious viral infection and is one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season.

Influenza is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system, which includes the nose, bronchial tubes, and lungs. Influenza has these common symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Sore throat

  • Nonproductive cough

Influenza can make people of any age ill. Although most people, including children, are ill with influenza for less than a week, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza may also lead to pneumonia or death.

What are the different types of influenza?

Influenza viruses are divided into three types designated as A, B, and C:

  • Influenza types A and B cause epidemics of respiratory illness that happen almost every winter. They often lead to increased rates of hospitalization and death. Public health efforts to control the spread of influenza focus on types A and B. One of the reasons the flu remains a problem is because the viruses actually change their structure regularly. This means that people are exposed to new types of the virus each year.

  • Influenza type C usually causes either a very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms at all. It does not cause epidemics and does not have the severe public health impact that influenza types A and B do.

Influenza viruses continually change (mutate), which helps the virus to evade the immune system of both children and adults. People can get the flu no matter what their age. The process works like this:

  1. A person infected with an influenza virus develops antibodies against that virus.

  2. The virus changes.

  3. The "older" antibodies no longer recognize the "newer" virus when the next flu season comes around.

  4. The person becomes infected again.

The older antibodies can give some protection against getting the flu again. Vaccines given each year to protect against the flu contain the influenza virus strain from each type that is expected to cause the flu that year.

What causes influenza?

An influenza virus is generally passed from person to person through the air. This means your child can get the flu by coming in contact with an infected person who sneezes or coughs. The virus can also live for a short time on things like doorknobs, pens or pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. So your child can get the flu virus by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or eyes.

People are generally the most contagious with the flu 24 hours before they start having symptoms and during the time they have the most symptoms. That's why it is hard to prevent the spread of the flu, especially among children, because they do not always know they are sick while they are still spreading the disease. The risk of infecting others usually stops around the seventh day of the infection.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza is called a respiratory disease, but the whole body seems to suffer when a child has it. Children usually become suddenly ill with any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever, which may be as high as 103° F (39.4° C) to 105° F (40.5° C)

  • Muscle and joint aches and pains

  • Not feeling well "all over"

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Worsening cough

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

Most people recover from influenza within a week, but they still feel exhausted for as long as 3 to 4 weeks.

The symptoms of influenza may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always see your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is a cold different from the flu?

A cold and the flu are two different illnesses. A cold is relatively harmless and usually clears up by itself after a period of time. Sometimes a cold may lead to a secondary infection, such as an ear infection. But the flu can lead to complications, such as pneumonia and even death. What may seem like a cold may be the flu. Be aware of these differences:

Cold symptoms

Flu symptoms

Low or no fever

High fever

Sometimes a headache

Headache (very common)

Stuffy, runny nose

Clear nose or stuffy nose

Sneezing

Sometimes sneezing

Mild, hacking cough

Cough, often becoming severe

Slight aches and pains

Often severe aches and pains

Mild fatigue

Several weeks of fatigue

Sore throat

Sometimes a sore throat

Normal energy level or may feel sluggish

Extreme exhaustion

How can influenza be prevented?

A new influenza vaccine is available each year, before the start of flu season. All children, beginning at 6 months, should get the flu vaccine each year, as soon as it is available in their community. 

The flu vaccine is available as a shot and a nasal spray. The nasal spray vaccine is for healthy children and adolescents ages 2 to 17 (and in healthy adults ages 18 to 49). It is recommended, instead of the shot, for healthy children ages 2 to 8 years old. The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to those who:  

  • Are pregnant

  • Have weakened immune systems

  • Have an egg allergy

  • Have asthma or wheezing (young children)

  • Are taking aspirin ling-term (children and adolescents)

  • Will have close contact with someone with a weakened immune system within 7 days

  • Took antiviral medication in the past 2 days

The flu shot, instead of the nasal spray, should be given to those people. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about which flu vaccine is right for your child.

Antiviral medications can be prescribed to help prevent someone from getting severe long-lasting symptoms or from getting the flu. Talk with your child's health care provider about antiviral medication if your child was around someone with the flu.

Following these precautions may be helpful:

  • When possible, avoid or limit contact with infected people.

  • Frequent handwashing may reduce, but not eliminate, the risk for infection.

  • A person who is coughing or sneezing should cover his or her nose and mouth with a tissue or inside elbow to limit spread of the virus.

Vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending on how close the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine match strain or strains that actually circulate during the influenza season. Vaccine strains must be chosen 9 to 10 months before the influenza season. Sometimes, changes occur in the circulating strains of viruses between the time vaccine strains are chosen and the next influenza season. These changes may reduce the ability of the vaccine-induced antibodies to stop the newly mutated virus. This decreases the chance that the vaccine will work.

Vaccine effectiveness also varies from one person to another, depending on factors like age and overall health.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

The most serious side effect of an influenza vaccination is an allergic reaction in people who have a severe allergy to eggs. There are vaccines available for those with an egg allergy.

Some people who get the vaccine have soreness at the vaccine site. Some people have mild side effects, such as a headache or a low-grade fever for about a day after vaccination. Because these mild side effects are like some influenza symptoms, some people believe influenza vaccine causes them to get influenza. But the CDC says that "influenza vaccine produced in the United States has never been capable of causing influenza because the only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States to the present time is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection."

What are current vaccine recommendations?

The vaccine is recommended for all people 6 months and older, including pregnant women. People who are allergic to eggs may be given a different flu vaccine for people with an egg allergy. It is especially important that people in these groups get a flu shot: 

  • Pregnant women and women who plan to be pregnant during flu season  

  • People 50 and older. Vaccine effectiveness may be lower for older adults, but it can significantly reduce their chances of serious illness or death from influenza.

  • Children 6 months to 19 years old

  • Residents of nursing homes and any other long-term care facilities that house people of any age who have chronic medical conditions

  • Adults and children who have long-term heart or lung conditions

  • Adults and children who have the following medical conditions:

    • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes

    • Kidney or liver disorders

    • Weakened immune system from diseases such as HIV or AIDS or taking long-term steroids

    • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease

  • Children and teenagers ages 6 months to 19 years who are taking aspirin as long-term therapy

  • Health care providers and other staff that provide care in hospitals, nursing homes, home healthy and other facilities

  • Household members, including children, of people in high-risk groups

What is the treatment for influenza?

Specific treatment for influenza will be determined by your child's doctor based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • The severity of symptoms

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

The goal of treatment for influenza is to help prevent or decrease the severity of symptoms. Treatment may include:

  • Medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve aches and fever. Aspirin should not be given to children with a fever without talking to your child's health care provider first. The drug of choice for children is acetaminophen.

  • Bed rest

  • Increased fluid intake

  • Medication for your child's cough may be prescribed by your child's provider after a thorough check-up.

  • Antiviral medications may help to shorten the length of the illness and decrease the severity of symptoms, but do not cure the flu. They must be started within three days after symptoms begin to have an effect on the virus. The length of therapy will be determined by your child's provider. Antiviral medications may also be given as prophylaxis or prevention following exposure to someone with influenza.

Influenza - Children

Does your child have the flu? Read more about signs and symptoms.

Learn more

Influenza (Flu)Influenza (Gripa)

Influenza (Flu)

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. It usually starts quickly, with fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a dry cough. People of all ages can get the flu. Although most people are ill with the flu for only a few days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza can also lead to pneumonia and death.

Influenza viruses continually change (mutate). Because the virus changes, people can get the flu no matter what their age. The process works like this:

  1. A person infected with an influenza virus develops antibodies against that virus.

  2. The virus changes.

  3. The "older" antibodies no longer recognize the "newer" virus.

  4. The person becomes infected again.

The older antibodies can, however, give some protection against getting the flu again. Currently, 3 different influenza viruses circulate worldwide. Vaccines given each year to protect against the flu contain the influenza virus strain from each type that is expected to cause the flu that year.

What are the facts about the flu?

Although each flu season is different, 5% to 20% of the population will get the flu each year. Of those who get the flu, between 3,000 and 49,000 will die from it or from complications, with more than 90% of deaths occurring in people over 65. 

What causes the flu?

The influenza virus is generally passed from person to person through the air - when an infected person sneezes or coughs. But the virus can also live for a short time on objects like doorknobs, pens, pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. So, you can also get the flu by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The following are the most common symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Cough

  • Severe aches and pains

  • Fatigue or feeling very tired

  • Sometimes a sore throat

What is the treatment for the flu?

Treatment may include:

  • Medications to relieve aches and fever

  • Medications for congestion and nasal discharge

  • Bed rest and increased intake of fluids

  • Antiviral medications. When started within the first 2 days of treatment, they can reduce how long you'll have the flu and the severity of symptoms.

How can the flu be prevented?

A new influenza vaccine is available each year. You should get the vaccine as soon as it is available in your area.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that infants over the age of 6 months and all children and adults get flu shots every year.

Some people are at increased risk of developing serious complications from the flu. It is extremely important that these people get the vaccine.  They include those with:

  • Long-term heart and lung conditions

  • Other serious medical conditions such as

    • Endocrine disorders, like diabetes

    • Kidney or liver disorders

    • Weak immune system from disease or treatment; for example those with HIV or AIDS or taking long-term steroids or medications to treat cancer

    • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease

  • It is also very important that others that have an increased risk of being exposed to the flu or are around people with increased risk of complications get the vaccine. They are:

    • Health care providers and other staff that provide care in hospitals, nursing homes, hone health, and other facilities

    • Household members, including children or people in high-risk groups

Types of vaccines

The flu vaccine is available as a shot and as a nasal spray. Your health care provider will determine which vaccine is right for you.

The shot is available in a few different forms. There is a high-dose vaccine for those over 65 and a vaccine for those with egg allergies. It is safe for most people. Talk with your provider if you have had

  • A severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine

  • Guillain-Barre syndrome (a severe paralyzing condition)

The nasal spray is recommended for people from 2 to 49 years old. It should not be given to adults who:

  • Are pregnant

  • Have weak immune systems

  • Have egg allergy

  • Will be in close contact with someone with a weak immune systems

  • Have taken antiviral medication in the past 2 days

Antiviral medications are also available to prevent the flu in people who have been in close contact with others with the flu. Contact your health care provider if you have been exposed to someone with the flu.

Following these precautions may also be helpful:

  • When possible, avoid or limit contact with people who have the flu or symptoms of the flu.

  • Frequent handwashing helps to lessen the risk of the risk of infection. Wash them well for 15 to 20 seconds.

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. It is best to use tissues. Then wash your hands.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year. Vaccine effectiveness also varies from one person to another, depending on factors such as age and overall health.

What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is safe. Vaccine safety is closely watched by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been safely given across the country for decades.

The flu vaccine can't give you the flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given and maybe a slight fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or cough. These side effects are mild and don't last long.

When should I get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends getting the flu shot every year, as soon as it becomes available in your community. Flu season can begin as early as October and most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. The flu shot takes 1 to 2 weeks to become effective.

If I get the flu shot, can I still get the flu?

If you get the vaccine, it is still possible to get the flu. People who have had the flu shot tend to have milder symptoms if they do get the flu.

Is traveling safe during the flu season?

Because the flu is a highly contagious infection usually spread by droplets from by an infected person who is coughing or sneezing, travelers are at increased risk of getting the flu.

The CDC recommends that travelers have the flu vaccine at least 2 weeks before planned travel to allow time to develop immunity. 

Influenza - Adults

What is influenza and why should you get the vaccine?

Learn more

Is it a Just a Cold?

Learn how to differentiate between the flu and a cold with these tips.

Read more