2013 Flu Symptoms: Real Life Accounts vs. Textbook Cases

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Did you catch the flu this year? Influenza Symptoms vary among individuals. Image courtesy of CDC

Did you catch the flu this year? Influenza Symptoms vary among individuals. Image courtesy of CDC

The 2012/2013 flu season in the United States is beginning to dwindle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all regions are reporting a decline in influenza-like-illness for the fourth week in a row, but that won’t help if you catch the virus.

This influenza season started early and was severe, thus far 78 pediatric deaths have been caused by this serious and highly contagious illness. To gain a better understanding of how the flu has affected the lives of others, let’s meet four people from around the United States who experienced flu symptoms first hand this year.

Flu Symptoms in One Kentucky Family

A family of four living in Kentucky knows firsthand what the flu is capable of. The parents, both 29 years old, a two year old boy, and a 10 month old little girl, none of whom got the flu shot this year, all had confirmed influenza A. The mother of this family told me about their experience with the flu. She spoke about when symptoms started to develop and how severe they were.

“It started with my son who had 7 confirmed cases in his daycare class. He woke up at 4:00 AM vomiting and had a temp of 101. Once he stopped vomiting we gave him tylenol and he went back to sleep and woke up at his normal time. My mother-in-law watched him and our daughter while we went to work that day and she said he was fine. When I got home around 3:00 PM I noticed he was starting to run a temp and by 5:00 PM his temp rose to 102.8. The biggest concern was his breathing, where he was breathing 80 breaths per minute. The pediatrician recommended we take him to the ER. He was diagnosed with Flu A and they gave him Tamiflu and Ibuprofen. By mid-day the next day he started feeling somewhat back to himself. I got it the next day and the symptoms came on over night for me.  I felt like I got hit by a truck overnight.For my daughter and husband (who had very mild cases) it came on within a half a day. 

My symptoms were: aches, headache, vomiting, chills/fever and severe fatigue. My son had very similar symptoms but my daughter had diarrhea and a low grade temp with some fatigue. The pediatrician said her symptoms wouldn’t be severe due to breastfeeding and starting Tamiflu early. My husband had very mild symptoms (low grade fever and chills) but he had been on Tamiflu from early on since he knew our son had it.”

Flu in the Foley Family

This was the first year since 2009 that Dawn Foley, age 29, didn’t get the seasonal influenza shot. Mrs. Foley was diagnosed with influenza A as well as her husband. Thankfully, their little boy (who got his flu shot) did not get the flu. Her mother and her mother and father-in-law also didn’t get the flu shot and all tested positive for influenza. Mrs. Foley’s dad did receive the flu shot however, and he, like his grandson, did not get sick. Mrs. Foley recalls her experience with the flu.

“I started with a little cough and minor sore throat on a Saturday. Sunday I just didn’t feel good and felt like maybe I had the onset of a sinus infection. When I woke up Monday morning I was covered in sweat. I attempted to get ready for work and I almost passed out trying to stand up. I had a horrible cough and felt like I had been hit by a truck. I literally slept all day Monday and went to The Little Clinic in Kroger Monday evening. I tested positive for Influenza Type A. Tuesday I still felt weak and continued to break out in body sweats. The cough continued but became bearable with the prescription medicines. Wednesday I woke up feeling 70% better, but still was very worn down. I didn’t really start to feel my best until the following Monday/Tuesday. I am still a little congested and cough every once in a while. That Monday I felt like death warmed over. I seriously could not move or keep my eyes open. I was weak beyond belief. I felt like my body was pouring out sweat in buckets. Once I began taking the Tamiflu I started to feel better but it just seemed like energy was hard to come by. I laid around for 4 days before I felt somewhat better.”

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