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H1N1 Up Close and Personal

Cindy on October 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Update: This past week I had the chance to speak in-depth with a local hospital physician and this was some of the conversation interesting enough to share:

* Sugar can reduce your immune system’s ability to fight viruses. Limit sugar intake when sick with a flu.

* Increase Vitamin D intake if you can (some people cannot due to prior health issues) which aids your immune system’s ability to fight infections.

* A fair amount of children have returned to hospitals due to hallucinations and other complications experienced during the administration of Tamiflu. Discontinuation of the drug occurred at that point.

* Vaccination provides only temporary immunity against seasonal influenza, not long-term resistance that you find in the natural antibodies you get with the actual flu. Do not believe that once you have been vaccinated you are immune to this flu forever.

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Last week our entire family got sick, really sick. Our youngest who is 10 ended up in the local Newport Beach hospital with a fever of 104.6 which wasn’t responding to any medications for 24 hours. After approximately five hours of being hooked up to an IV for hydration, administration of pain and anti-nausea medication, his temperature lowered to 102 degrees for the first time in days. He under went a battery of tests for strep, mono, meningitis, and H1N1. Toward midnight we were told he had tested positive for H1N1.

This flu has received so much media that when you try and decipher it all, you are left feeling completely confused and not sure what, and what not to believe. So, I am here to give you some personal first-hand insight.

H1N1 is not like any other flu I have had before. It came on like a mac-truck. One moment I was fine, the next I was as sick as ever. It seems like each flu has a “m.o.”, like a stomach-flu, or aches & chills flu, but this beast has it all. I went from zero congestion to full-blow stuffy head, nose, ears & cough in a matter of minutes. Accompanying that was very high fever, chills, aches, pains, vomiting, nausea, and other intestinal issues. The flu lasted about a week for each of us, but now about 6 days after the fever has gone we are all left with bronchitis.

So, is it a flu just like any other flu? Well, yes and no. It’s a flu, and we got through it. But, it was unlike any flu we have had before. We were experiencing common maladies such as feeling like our eyes were bulging out of our sockets, or feeling like knives were in our hamstrings, our that our fingers were on fire. Those oddities made this whole thing quite bizarre.

The doctor at the hospital upon discharge asked us to self-quarantine ourselves for another five days, although the common thing to do is return to the regular world 24 hours after the fever has subsided. He said this was really the only way for us to actually be able to get a leg-up again, and not to continue infect those around us. He told us to prepare for a secondary infection (bronchitis) that might hit afterward and to ignore what we hear from others, and listen to our bodies. I think sometimes in the panic of being sick, we can forget the basics. Therefore I have compiled some of the basics below. You never know, you will probably not need them, but in a moment of panic, you may have the right suggestion for someone else.

I am glad we are through the eye of the storm. Maybe this means that the rest of the flu-season will just be a non-event in our household… One can only hope, right?

Basic common practices when dealing with this flu, or any flu:

Hydration. The intake of cool fluid not only prevents dehydration, but it actually cools the body temperature down internally and will decrease your fever naturally. Push the fluids to reduce the fever! It works in most cases, although due to vomiting, didn’t work for our youngest.

Fever Medication. Make sure to know the weight of your children, and administer medication based on their weight not their age. Under-dosing your children will complicate things. Doctors recommended alternating Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen every three hours to reduce the fever, children and adults alike.

High Fever Transportation. Do not travel yourself, or transport a child, with a high temperature if possible, as seizures can occur on the way to the hospital or doctor. It is recommended that you bathe in tepid (luke warm) water 20 min. before traveling to help reduce the temperature. Do not bundle up afterward.

Cold Baths. Not recommended. These actually increase the body’s temperature as the person begins shivering. Make sure the water is room temperature, or tepid.

Fevers Fluctuate. Your body temperature normally fluctuates throughout the day, when you are sick it is no different. A range of fever from 99-105 varying throughout the day and night is to be expected. Only when a person remains at a high temperature, and does not fluctuate, and is not responding to medication for a long period of time is there cause for concern, as the person may become septic.

At the beginning warnings were being issued to the elderly and young for the Swine Flu but now it seems that the elderly may have cut a break. Our hospital-doctor that night mentioned that the 75+ age may actually have anti-bodies to this flu which they got when this same flu existed back in the late 20′s/early 30′s.

Update: In 1918 the Spanish Influenza killed hundreds of people and it is thought to be this identical strain. Then again in the 1950′s another similar strain appeared. Therefore, a host of people 60+ years old have a stronger immunity against this H1N1 virus.

Health Care Afterthought:
My cost for Tamiflu (PPO Ins.): $35.00
My child’s cost for Tamiflu (Fed. PPO Ins. Plan): $20.00
My mother’s cost for Tamiflu (Medicaid): $70.00

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