We all came down with a "flu-like illness" a couple of weeks ago. I missed a Sunday of church and had a fever for about four days and a horrible chest cough for a few days after, but I think my biggest anguish was mental. Guys, don't google swine flu. They have all sorts of scary, wonderful statistics that will drive you mad with worry. I seriously wondered to myself if I were to not survive, what my husband would have to do. Which is silly.
Pregnant women are a high-risk group, though, and it's looking like a scary percentage of them (something like 3-6 % is what I've read) end up hospitalized with subsequent pneumonia infections, and some have died. Everything I've read and done, though, has pointed me toward treating yourself right and you won't get horribly awfully ill.
Here's what we did:
Because it was too late for Tamiflu by the time we realized we had it, we treated ourselves with some natural remedies and avoided sugars, dairies, and refined flours, all which increase mucous production/and or lower the immune system's response range. The natural remedies that seemed to help the best were:
1) Garlic/cayenne capsules
2) Emergen-C!!! Seriously, a life-saver. I downed so much of that stuff, I was worried I might give myself kidney stones or something, but it seemed to work soooo well. My whole family guzzled it. You can buy a fam-size pack at Sam's for around 20 bucks, which is much cheaper than you can buy it at the normal grocery or health food store. I'm guessing Costco likely also carries it.
3) Humidifier. Be careful to clean it out well, because it can also harbor and spread bacteria if it's not properly cleaned. I put Young Living brand Theives oil in the humidifier and it really seemed to soothe the cough a bit.
5) Peppermint oil on the chest/neck/throat and Olba's Pastille lozenges, to relieve the awful pain of coughing endlessly when your throat is raw as a pulverized steak.
6) Heating pad and/or socks filled with rice and cinnamon/cloves, heated up in the oven at around 250 for half an hour or so. Put on the chest/throat.
7) Sitting UP in bed. honestly... when I was lying down it felt like the mucous pooled more, and that coughing was much less productive.
8) Onion soup. Fry some sliced onions in some oil or butter ( a LOT of onions, like four or five whole onions) and then stew them in vegetable or chicken broth for about 30 minutes more. I added shredded parmesan cheese sprinkles even though it was dairy and therefore, mucous producing... because then it was like french onion soup at a good restaurant.
8) An over-the-counter expectorant, such as Mucinex. Really helped loosen the gross chest crud and helped with coughing it up (though honestly, it was torture for a bit there... endless coughing.)
For my kids, I kept tabs on their temperatures and administered Tylenol if they went above 103 or so.
The stages of the illness seemed to go as follows:
1) Like the beginning of a nomral, bad cold accompanied by the achiness of fever and an actual fever, and a feeling of weak helplessness like there's no way you can get out of bed, even to put away your dirty socks.
2) The chest cough really starts to set in the next day or day after. Also some nasal congestion, for us. Focus on this symptom, because it is the one that tends to make people go downhill, fast, if not addressed.
3) The fever tends to last for a while! It's amazing. I treated it with peppermint oil, which helped sometimes, and Tylenol, which helped when nothing else did.
4) The cough is still with us. And the hoarseness will continue beyond the time when you feel capable of getting out of bed... so when you go out in public people will look at you like you're typhoid mary. Don't worry about it... most sources say you're not contagious 48 hrs after your fever is gone. But still, I brought hand sanitizer everywhere we went and made my kids wash before we went inside any buildings, just to be good citizens.
So we survived! And the way statistics are looking right now, almost everyone will get this flu within the next couple months... so here's what we learned. Hope others can benefit from it. Biggest piece of advice... try not to freak out. Everything I've read said the symptoms to keep an eye on are struggling for breath, wheezing when breathing... bascially the symptoms of pneumonia. Which is what you watch for with any cold/flu, especially in your small kids. :)