Dr. Bang answers parents’ most-asked flu questions

Published 2:10 am Friday, February 1, 2019

Local pediatrician Dr. Bhagwan Bang said he gets lots of questions about the flu. Here’s what parents need to know.

Question: What is the difference between Type A and Type B flu, and which is more dangerous?

Dr. Bang

Bang: “Usually type A affects humans, birds, pigs, different types of animals. Type B stays with humans only, so it is more regional. Type A changes itself very rapidly. It mutates, it changes itself so it is able to fool our immune system and cause more harm. Type B does not mutate as rapidly as type A, but B tends to cause more muscle problems and type B tends to have a shorter duration than A. Type A usually comes first, like what we are seeing, but now we will start seeing the type B come in.

Question: How long should a parent wait to send their children back to school.

Bang: Usually we say that patients should not go back to school until they are feeling better. And when they are fever free for 24 hours without taking medicine to help, like Tylenol. The best way to get over the flu is to stay home. If you think about it, when you sneeze you spread millions of particles around the room, when you cough that happens as well, so I say stay home for at least four to five days.

Question: Is it possible to have the flu, event if you test negative?

Bang: The test can only detect 50 to 70 percent of the cases. It is not like the strep test where it is 80 to 90 percent correct. It depends on when and who swabbed for the test. When you swab, if the patient is past four or five days being sick, then the sensitivity of the test will keep dropping after that, so if we catch it early then it will be more accurate. If the patient is presenting symptoms we will still treat them, but a negative test can’t always be truly confirmed.

Question: Will Tamiflu help?

Bang: Tamiflu can reduce your symptoms by one day. I have had so many people asking about what Tamiflu is and if they should use it. If they do take it, it is only going to reduce their symptoms by a day, if that.

Question: What is the best way to prevent the flu?

Bang: The best way is a flu vaccine. Some other ways to prevent the spreading of the flu are staying home, getting the vaccine, using masks and hand washing.

Even if you get the flu, you can still get the shot once you get better because you can still get the other strain of flu if you aren’t vaccinated. I always say that the only thing predictable about the flu, is that it is unpredictable.