Friday, February 15, 2008

What's going around?

Illness #1: Starts with a tickle or tiny cough. Patient thinks must've been exposed to perfume, smoke, cat, smog, or perhaps a minor illness. Within hours to two days, patient develops sore throat, hoarseness, and a cough that is painful, compelling, deep, possibly productive of small amount of yellow guck. Body feels toxic, aching all over and fatigue so severe that patient debates with self whether or not it's worth getting up to bathroom or perhaps better just to hold it. No one wants to be around patient, including doctor.

Illness #2: Rather abruptly develops deep cough, body aches, chilling, fever, headache. Maybe sore throat. Eyes are glassy and no one doubts patient is ill. No one wants to be around patient, including doctor.

One illness is probably croup, the other influenza. Both are nasty and highly contagious. The flu shot, as you may have heard, was not a good match for the circulating strains of influenza this season. The viral part of these illnesses lasts for a week or more, the cough lingers for weeks (or even months in Denver's cold, dry, dirty air). While we can sort of take the edge off the misery with codeine cough syrup and Advil, antibiotics won't help a bit.

Getting better involves a slow return of energy. Remember, the cough may well outlast the illness by weeks. If you succumb to one of these bad actors, look out for phase 2 of the illness. If a week or more into the illness, you feel worse instead of better, and that which you cough or blow out is colored and disgusting, you may be developing bronchitis or sinusitis. We can talk about antibiotics.

If this onslaught keeps up, I may start wearing a mask during close encounters of the contagious kind. Please don't take it personally!


dorsey said...

I clipped a comic for you (left under a pile on the kitchen table), doctor to patient: "I'm referring you to a specialist . . . Your problems are just too gross and icky for me."

I've become a compulsive (for me) hand-washer thanks to your warnings. worst is watching grocery workers sneeze on the asparagus, not even hose it off. Mask or no, I don't think I'd let sick people in the building. I'm so not envious of that part of your job, so impressed you keep doing it. and the brisket story doesn't surprise me at all, honestly.

JeanMac said...

For sure mask - some will be offended til they "think". About every 3 years I end up with the chest situation where codeine syrup is the only thing that gives me relief -

Mauigirl said...

I can sympathize, hope you don't catch it.

Two of our friends and a number of people at work have been felled by one or the other of those illnesses. My one friend who had what sounded all the world to me like the flu had had the flu shot and our doctor (we go to the same one) did a nasal swab and declared it was NOT flu. (I didn't realize you could diagnose it that way?) Maybe she had the croup.

However, I'm sure a number of the other people at work are having the real influenza. I have had the shot and have my fingers crossed.

I did come down with an annoying cold but it seems to have gone away now and was only the "sniffles." Better that than flu!