The Flu is Just That

Axel HeaderSymptoms are a dry cough and a high fever, plus headaches and general malaise, with aches and pains (more than normal!) and lack of appetite. But, if you do not have a fever, you do not have the flu!
A cough and a runny nose and headaches without a fever is bound to be labelled: a cold. And a cold is a cold; not the flu
Both are virus induced – yes, but a cold is a much milder infection and rarely ever presents a real danger to the patient’s life. Whereas, the flu can be an angry 800-kg rhino, steamrolling one’s wellbeing within a few hours.
These buggers causing it are so tiny that you cannot even see them on ordinary microscopes, but they are a true ‘Mars Attacks’ and do not come wearing the peace sign.
They need our poor human cells to reduplicate and do not care a toss how many are killed on the way. They do infect the whole body: mucous skins as the port of entry, muscles (that’s why they hurt), brain, lungs and even the heart – no wonder one feels lousy.
Normal individuals would respond defending themselves fiercely, call all white blood cells to arms and develop a high fever. So: a fever means we are defending ourselves! Not a bad sign at all, but still weakening.
Headaches can be head-splitting for which you can take an Ibuprofen, Aspirin or Paracetamol.
The weakening effect can be the problem, because then opportunistic germs can sneak in and cause what’s a secondary infection. This could easily develop into a serious and life-threatening pneumonia. Dyspnoea, breathing difficulties or ‘noisy breathing’ are serious signs and a doctor must be called!
Generally, one would consider the chronically ill, elderly and frail at risk.
But this year’s flu seems to have a bigger appetite for the younger and jucier – the ones that are not even 50 yet.
One reckons there might be relative protection for persons who had been exposed to H1N1-flu-strains during childhood before the last pandemic in 1957.
Whether there will be more conclusive data, once the immunizing season starts in October, can only be guessed at, at this stage. Immunizing is known to work for the elderly. For people at pensioners age it ameliorates symptoms, prevents pneumonias and hospital admissions by one third or half.
Did you really read that? Pensioners age and prevents pneumonias by 50%? In other words: it’s anything but foolproof!
I do not believe that data for the famous TAMIFLU treatment are any brighter.
So: can one do anything at all? Sure one can!
Do pamper mucous skins by having, preferably freshly squeezed, Vitamin C and A – oranges and carrots.
Avoid big crowds – there will always be one or the other porky bug around.
Keep a distance – an extra meter might be enough (I have ordered a bigger office table already).
If masks are of any value is not clear. Most sensible would be, if the ones with colds and flu symptoms would wear them to protect the others. That’s what Japanese do and it looks a socially responsible and medically sensible idea.
If you have flu symptoms: should you go to the health centre/doctor/hospital and let everybody participate? No!
Stay at home, seek medical advice through the phone and let the doctor decide if he/she needs to come to see you at home.
Do be aware that there is lots of bucks to be extracted from your pockets by manufacturers of (unreliable) test kits for influenza A, only partially effective vaccines and treatments and that most media are only too happy to increase the size of their headlines – there is a lot of bizz in hysteria.
Data on risk of death from influenza in the most endangered group above 75 years of age is… 0.3 promille! (3 out of ten thousand)
That’s less than the drink-driving limit, so I wonder how big the problem really is?
Do you remember the avian flu hysteria two years ago? Ever heard anything about it since? Nor have I. Let’s hope it will be the same again.
P.S: to date, three people have died in Andalucía, one of them, a 20-year-old, in Granada. But: this poor girl was previously diagnosed ‘morbidly obesity, which is the most extreme form of obesity and she was anything but healthy before she got the flu. Neither of the other two were healthy individuals before contracting the flu!

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