Now those same symptoms terrify you.
That flu has already swept through many parts of the country and experts fear a resurgence this fall.
Parents now have to sift through a swirling mass of information about this new health threat. Younger children may be even more confused.
"What I'm hearing is that parents are fearful because of the unknown, because it's something new. People get the feeling that it's a changing playing field where recommendations are changing, which is true," says David Ulery, pediatrician at Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
Kids cope with flu fears in their own way.
"Kids are fearful of the shots. But some of our children say, 'I'm not afraid of the shot, so can I get one for my sister because she's afraid and then she doesn't have to get one?' " says John R. Meurer, associate professor of pediatrics and chief of general pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and medical director of Milwaukee's Downtown Health Center.
There are ways to make the swine flu less fearsome for both parents and children. Here are some ideas.
FLU-FIGHTING TIPS FOR PARENTS
- Raise your family's general health level. Make sure everyone gets enough sleep, eats right and exercises to improve immunity.
- Know the contagion timetable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with H1N1 virus may infect people from one day before getting sick to five to seven days after. This "infection window" may be longer for children.
- Remember the swine flu's method of operation to outfox it. The swine flu spreads through the same viral techniques as seasonal flu: through the coughs and sneezes of flu sufferers and by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching your mouth or nose.
- Stay informed on swine flu vaccination techniques. Current data suggests that people ages 10 and older will need one injection; ages 9 and younger might need two. You may also be given the option of getting your child vaccinated with a nasal spray, usually recommended for children older than 2 who do not have chronic health problems. "We feel the spray is better," Ulery says.
And the old saying about sugar making "the medicine go down" holds with shots, too. "Tell your child he or she will be rewarded after getting the shot, maybe with a sticker or a little book or treat," Meurer says.
- Focus on prevention. "Avoid people who are sick," Meurer says. The CDC recommends staying at least 6 feet away from flu sufferers. Keep surfaces such as kitchen counters and toys clean by wiping them down with household disinfectant according to product directions. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.