Flu round up

Hello fellow flu sufferers!

I got the flu very early this year, in November, because I am a TREND SETTER. Also because people with the flu like to come to the clinic and cough on me. I was sick for two weeks, got better, and then hung out with a pediatrician in Puerto Rico so of course I got worse because they are full of kid germs. Eventually I got better but it pretty much took until now to recover my strength. The flu is no joke.

Is the flu really that bad this Year?

It certainly feels like a bad year for flu, but it is just too early to say. Hospitals are reporting an uptick in patients. But at least in terms of deaths so far, that perception may not be reality. 

when should you see your doctor?

Most people with the flu need rest, fluids, tylenol, and a few days off of work, ideally until 24 hours after your fever has resolved. Some should seek care. But who? The thing I am relearning is that recognizing who is truly ill is not an easy thing to do. It takes years of training. The average person is not going to be able to make that distinction. And even those of us who are pretty good doctors probably need help making that decision for ourselves (thanks for making me stay home Carolyn!).

Should I have gone to see my doctor? Probably, I'm not a good patient. But really this is a complex decision. In most cases, you should call your doctor if you are unsure. The CDC has a great breakdown of who is at the highest risk, and the symptoms that you should watch out for, including:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

SO what about tamiflu?

I did not take tamiflu because I think the data is weak. In the most positive studies, funded by the company that makes the drug, tamiflu shortened duration of symptoms by 6 hours but increased vomiting, hallucinations, and acute kidney injury. But a lot of reasonable people disagree with me, including the CDC. The FDA, on the other hand, which reviews published and unpublished data, is wary of tamiflu's claims

The problem with company-funded studies is companies can decide what data to publish, and what they have published isn't all that impressive. I don't believe in grand conspiracies. I do, however, believe in the undue influence of money on our clinical decision making.

This damned near perfect article is a great roundup of the tamiflu controversy and good old fashioned advice.

but i'm miserable tell me what to do

So if no tamiflu then what? As the NY Times article puts it: "rest, fluids, not staying horizontal all day and perhaps also letting in fresh air and sunlight are the best things you can do for yourself."

I swear by fresh garlic and lime, boiled in water, and drunk like tea with no consideration for ever being close to another human again. For something slightly more palatable, try this amazing chicken soup slow cooker recipe.

To make you very popular on social media, I wrote you the following article about getting the flu shot which you can share with all your friends.

It's not too late to get the flu shot! Spread the word! (But cover your mouth).