What a lousy week of illness at my house. We have been as sick as dogs here. The big question for us is when to see the doctor and when to stay home from work or school.
Most people don’t realize that you run a fever over almost any antigen (foreign substance) you come into contact with whether it’s allergies, a bacterial infection or most especially a virus.
Bacteria exist everywhere so you germaphobes out there really have no hope. Bacteria are single cell organisms that are ubiquitous, meaning they exist everywhere. They exist all over our body, inside and out and most of them serve a purpose by being there. Some survive in cold versus warm environments and most cause no infections unless our immune system is compromised. Usually they result in a secondary infection due to an earlier virus such as a cold or allergy becoming a sinus, chest or ear infection.
Viruses are much smaller and must have a living organism as a host, such as a human, plant, or animal. Viruses simply cannot exist for long without a host but once they enter your body, they literally take over your body’s system to multiply and feed themselves. That’s why sprays such as Lysol are so effective on solid surfaces. This would be things such as influenza, rhinovirus( the common cold) and the HIV virus.
Due to a child’s more active immune system, they generally have more viral infections and run higher temperatures than adults. Children bounce back so quickly once a fever has diminished that we may actually think they are well.
Here are some simple ways to avoid getting sick and deciding if you have an infection or a virus.
1. Viruses generally cause late afternoon and evening fever. (That’s why our kids wake us up at night with a stomach virus.) With a bacterial infection, you generally feel worse upon waking and feel better throughout the day as your immune system kicks in as well as endorphins.
Don’t assume that what your child brought home from school as a cold is what you have. Adults respond differently when exposed over and over again to an antigen so just because your child was better in a few days it doesn’t mean we will be.
2. I really can’t say this enough, but wash your hands!!! I don’t mean splash water on them and use antibacterial hand sanitizer, but wash them! Wash with warm water and soap for 30 seconds throughout the day depending in exposure. Hand sanitizer has been shown to kill off necessary bacteria for proper immune function. There is a place and a time for it such as dealing with someone severely ill or when working in a physicians office but other than that, stick to the basics.
3. Children generally run higher fevers than adults but no one with a temperature above 100.5 degrees F should be around others. (38 degrees C). That’s when it’s time to call in sick.
Most fever responds to over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen at recommended dosages.
*Never give a child under 18 aspirin.*
4. If your fever doesn’t respond, contact your physician.
Flu symptoms are very different from cold symptoms. Flu symptoms involve generalized headache, dizziness, fatigue and body aches, a high fever, cough, stomach issues and nasal issues such a sneezing or congestion. The sooner you see your doctor the better. Treatment is available early and may lessen the duration of the flu just as a vaccine will. Don’t think your flu vaccine keeps you immune . Flu vaccines are guestimated based on what happened in the other hemisphere six months prior to our own flu season. No
guarantee, but not a bad idea.
5. If your life is disturbed by winter illness for more than 3 days, see your doctor. If you feel like you can’t get out of bed, see your doctor. If you’re overly concerned, see your doctor.
Always seek emergency treatment with any fever over 105 degrees F as soon as possible and if your gut tells you that you need help, GET IT!
Just some friendly advise from a mom and your friendly neighborhood pharmacist. Best of luck and Merry Christmas and A Happy Healthy New Year to you all!
(Cough and sneeze in the crook of your elbow instead of your hand!)
Don’t forget that we pay them, not the other way around.
Think! Live! Love!