Monday, November 16, 2009

We're Protected!

I took Anna for her second (regular) seasonal flu shot today.   Her doctor confirmed that our family probably did have H1N1 back in October.   I asked what level of immunity we would be blessed to enjoy, if the virus later mutates into something more deadly. He said we would probably be fully protected, but it would depend on how bad the mutation is.

Your family may well have had this virus too.  Here are some symptoms to consider, which didn't end up being the same in all of us, or in all of my sister's family.

1.  fever
 - some get no fever, some get only a mild fever, some get a high fever.

2.  sore throat
 - we all got this, and it was painful

3.  chills
 - not everyone gets chills, but our family did seem to get this to different degrees; my sister doesn't recall any chills

4. dry hacking cough, could be productive cough later
 - everyone involved in both families got a bad cough, which lingered a few weeks

5.  nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
 - Timothy vomited for 24 hours; Daniel once (some diarrhea for him); Emily had diarrhea twice; only my sister's ex-husband vomited in their family; I did have nausea, my husband didn't

6.  congestion, runny nose
 - a runny nose is more of a cold symptom than a flu symptom, but you can get some drainage halfway through the flu; only Anna and I had some drainage, probably due to our secondary sinus infection.

 - everyone in both families did get congestion

7.  fatigue, muscle aches
- we all got this to varying degrees; my husband and my sister were only tired for two days; the kids and I were tired and weak for one to two weeks

8. secondary bacterial infection
- While flu is a virus and not helped by antibiotics, your system is less able to fight off bacteria when you're ailing with the flu.  This means you could get a secondary bacterial infection and need antibiotics to fight it.  Examples of secondary infections are:  ear infection, sinus infection, bronchitis, pnemonia
All of these things can also be viral, but if you begin to feel a bit better from the flu, and then get worse, suspect a bacterial infection.  Anna and I got sinus infections, my brother-in-law and nephew got pneumonia.  You are less likely to get something secondary if you drink plenty of water, get extra sleep, use clean humidifiers, and wash your hands frequently.

9. sudden onset
- Colds come on gradually, and the flu comes on suddenly.  Since congestion is common in the heating season in cold climates, it can be difficult to determine if symptoms came on gradually or suddenly. I get congestion from having the heater on, and congestion can give me a headache.  Indoor allergies can also cause symptoms that might be confused with a gradual-onset illness.

10. headache
- We all got this to varying degrees.  It is hard to determine how bad this symptom might be in young children.

I hope this helps someone!  You may not need an H1N1 vaccine if you've had these symptoms in 2009.  It's something to consider, although I read that having antibodies to this virus, and then getting a vaccine on top of that, is not dangerous. They aren't doing much testing now, since H1N1 is now so widespread. Most people presenting with flu-like symptoms do have H1N1, rather than the regular seasonal flu.

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