What You Need to Know About Our Flu and Viral Epidemics

What You Need to Know About Our Flu and Viral Epidemics
STEVEN J. LIPSKY MD, FACEP

We have been seeing 3 viral syndromes lately:

1) Flu-Like: consisting of low grade fever, malaise, weakness, headache, runny/stuffy nose with post-nasal drip causing coughing (especially during sleep), and nausea.

2) Influenza (it started as type B, but now is type A H1N3): like #1 but with higher fever, severe muscle aches, and some diarrhea and nausea as well

3) Norovirus: which causes fever (often high), and only extreme vomiting and diarrhea (no URI symptoms), lasting about 3 days, and often requiring i.v. hydration (it’s the “stomach flu” virus that causes huge outbreaks on cruise ships, etc.).

For those smart enough to get their “Flu Shot”, they are protected against getting #2 between about 60-100%. However, many folks say: “I don’t get a Flu Shot because it gives me the flu!”. This is impossible! The injectable immunization consists of completely dead viruses that act only as a template for your body to make antibodies to them. However, it takes about 2 weeks to make these antibodies, and if one is exposed to the Influenza Virus during (or shortly before) the immunization, then one can come down with the flu before you have enough time to mount resistance. Also, some people do not make enough antibodies to ward off a subsequent infection. Getting a Flu Shot in Sept. – Oct. should protect for the entire flu season, which hit earlier than normal this year and is still rampant in the West. However, it is still advisable to get one now if you have not already!

The young child Nose Spray Immunization is a weakened virus, and although the CDC says it is too weak to cause the flu in healthy patients, this is a possibility in immunocompromised ones (e.g. those with leukemias/other cancers, HIV, insulin-dependent diabetes, etc.).

Although, as our readers have previously been explained, antibiotics won’t kill a virus (it’s like trying to use weedkiller to kill a gopher!), we have been having success treating the symptoms of #1 and #2 with:

Tylenol for fever, headache and muscle aches (Ibuprofen and Naprosyn–ie. Advil and Aleve–can further upset a tender stomach)

Pseudoephedrine (the “Sudafed” you have to show your driver’s license for) and prescription Fluticasone Nasal Spray for runny/stuffy nose/post-nasal drip

Prescription Hydrocodone Cough Syrup ( e.g. Hydromet or Tussionex – all Walgreen’s are currently out of Hydromet in the Valley!) and Pro-Air HFA (i.e. Albuterol Metered Dose Inhalers) for cough and chest congestion

Prescription Odansetron for nausea/vomiting (along with Phenergan or Compazine Suppositories if uncontrollable)

OTC (i.e. “Over The Counter”) loperamide (e.g.Imodium AD) along with an OTC Probiotic powder or capsule of at least 9 billion cfus (i.e.”colony forming units”) 3x/day for diarrhea.

For those who truly appear to have Influenza (the nasal swab test is only about 50% accurate, and thus worthless in our opinion), and did not get a Flu Shot, we are adding prescription Oseltamivir (e.g. Tamiflu) that is very effective at ameliorating the symptoms of Influenza Type A & B if taken within 48hrs of onset (their literature says it’s effective up to 96hrs, but in our experience it’s not!).

Remember to stay home and away from others until you are O.K. if you become ill – one is infectious to others from 1-2 days before you come down with symptoms, until at least you’re completely normal (some studies say that you can transmit the virus up the 3-4 days after you’re completely normal!!). Cough into your elbow(not hands!) and wear a disposable surgical mask if you must go out, to prevent transmission. Wash hands with soap (it’s not necessary to use “antibacterial soap”) and warm water, front and back, vigorously for at least 30 seconds, frequently (and especially after being in public places). Bedrest and lots of clear liquids are very beneficial, and I personally like CoQ-10 at least 125mg 1-2x/day, a daily high potency B-Complex Vitamin, and at least 1000mg of Vitamin C daily, as well.

Please share this email with the link below if you think that you can help someone you know prevent or treat the stomach flu this season.

Dr. Steven Lipsky

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