Saturday, February 16, 2008

fight the flu

Fight the flu: Skip work, wash hands, wait it out

It’s the flu.

So says nurse practitioner Nip Boyes of the germs that have been creating empty workplaces and overflowing doctors’ offices recently in Glenn County.

Symptoms include a fever of 102 to 104, as well as the normal signs of a cold: headaches, coughs, congestion. Adults will get muscle and joint aches. Some people cough so hard, they end up vomiting too.

“The fever lasts four to five days, the cough eight to 10 days,” Mr. Boyes says. “We don’t know for sure that this is a flu, but it’s so dramatic we think it is.”

Many people he’s seen took this year’s flu vaccine; he thinks it might not have been designed against this strain.

To stop spreading the germs, Mr. Boyes has two main recommendations: wash your hands and cough into your sleeves — not your hands.

“(Kids) have been taught by their parents to cover their mouths,” Mr. Boyes says, “and then they reach for a doorknob.”

He also urged those who think they’re sick to stay home from work.

“If you go to work, you’re just keeping me, as a practitioner, in business,” he says.

Because influenza is a virus, there aren’t drugs to make your body get rid of it quicker. Those sick must simply wait out the eight to 14 days.

But, Mr. Boyes emphasizes, you can treat the symptoms. He recommends some prescriptionless remedies:

* for pain and fever: naproxin, the generic drug that’s in Aleve.

* to suppress cough: dextromethorphan, the generic drug in Delsym. He can prescribe another drug, called promethazine, to make it work better.

* to get rid of congestion: loratadine, the generic drug in Claritin.

For people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, Mr. Boyes recommends using an inhaler and an inhaled steroid, something he has to prescribe.

He’s also recommending a drug called Tamiflu for spouses of the sick that stops the infection from spreading to them.

Mr. Boyes warns that if you don’t take care of yourself — lots of rest, nutrient-rich food and non-alcoholic fluids — you’re more likely to get a secondary infection, like bronchitis. Age, he says, plays a huge role.

This is the third viral strain Mr. Boyes has seen go aroung the area this season.

Out sick recently — perhaps not all from the flu — were Orland Police Chief Bob Pasero, three staff members at Willows High School and three at Hamilton Union High.

As for us, this week THE MIRROR’s entire staff was hit. Our intern tried to visit a doctor, but his appointment got canceled.
The doctor was sick.

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