This Labor Day weekend has been a real treat for me this year. Some of you may have noticed that I have not been writing many articles in the last few days. This is because I have had the flu. Now both of my stepdaughters are home today with this nasty little bug. How do I know it is the flu. I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist by trade, and I have all the symptoms of the swine flu. There are two confirmed cases in Durham, North Carolina announced on the news this morning. This is my sixth day of feeling crappy so this should soon be over with for me. It is not to early to get your flu shots, and after the week that I have suffered through, I highly recommend it.

If you think that you might be coming down with a cold, then you shouldn't have a fever over 101. There are basically two types of flu, the swine flu and the seasonal flu. They spawn from various flu viruses. They are an acute respiratory infection that comes on suddenly. They host a variety of symptoms including high grade fever, sudden headache, fatigue, and general weakness. You will experience a runny nose, itchy watery eyes, sore throat, and a dry cough. If you have the swine flu, you will probably have nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting that last for 3-4 days. The other symptoms can hang around for 1-2 weeks depending on your immune system.

If you experience these symptoms, you can go to the doctor within the first 48 hours and receive antiviral medications that can lessen the duration of the flu. Depending on your symptoms, the physician may diagnose you, or you may get a rapid flu test to determine your diagnosis. There are 2 types of prescribed medications that you can take for the flu. There is Tamiflu and Relenza. Tamiflu can be given to someone that is at least 1 years old or older for the prevention and treatment of the flu. Relenza can prevent the flu in those that are at least 5 years old and older. It is also used to treat those that are 7 and up. There is no cure for the flu, but there is a influenza vaccine for the seasonal flu. This doesn't work for the swine flu, and currently there is no vaccine for it. In any case, these two medications can get you back on your feet quicker if given in time.

If you didn't get to the doc quick enough there are still some things that you can do to ease the misery. First, drink lots of water. Gargle with salty water for a sore throat. You can also put hot water into a sink and add fresh ginger or a few drops of oil of eucalyptus, cover your head with a towel to trap the aroma, and slowly inhale to open up bronchial tubes. Next, take an over-the-counter decongestant for a runny or stuffy nose. An antihistamine can also help with nasal discharge, sneezing, and itchy watery eyes. Some drugs contain these plus a pain reliever such as Comtrex, Advil Cold and Sinus, and Tylenol Allergy Sinus. I used the pm version of the later, which worked wonders for me. The FDA doesn't recommend giving over-the-counter medications to children under 4. So those people, along with the elderly or anyone with chronic conditions like Asthma and COPD, should go to the doctor. Furthermore, if after a few days symptoms do not improve, and continue to worsen, then you should see your doctor. A secondary bacterial infection can occur which will require antibiotics and further observation.

Now that the season has officially started, please remember to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. You should bend your arm and cough into the crook or bend opposite of your elbow to prevent the spread of germs into the air. Wash your hands often, and try to keep from rubbing your eyes and placing your fingers in your mouth. Practice good hygiene and teach those around you to do the same. If you have someone sick in the hospital, please do not bring babies or small children to visit. Everyone that is in the hospital is sick. Rooms are cleaned on a regular basis, but nothing is 100%. You will be exposing your child to all kinds of potential bacteria. It is just not an intelligent thing to do.