My Son Had the Swine Flu: Learn from My Experience & Advice from a Pediatrician

Kieran on his first big outing after recovring from the Swine Flu. Can you say happy?

Kieran on his first big outing after recovering from the Swine Flu. Can you say happy?

My Story:

Yes, it’s true; we were able to celebrate summer with my son coming down with the Swine Flu. This past July, Kieran woke up one morning with a runny nose. It was clear, so I didn’t think much about it and we went to our scheduled playdate. At it, he was acting tired, and would rather sit in my lap than play with his friends. When he opted to not have cake I knew something was up. That night, I put him to bed early figuring he just needed a good night’s sleep. The next day we headed up to Santa Barbara to see some family—it was a big trip, I hadn’t seen them in years so I didn’t think about canceling. Besides, Kieran seemed fine—he did just need a good night’s sleep.

After running around on the beach all day, Kieran started to have a cough. That night, he didn’t want to play with his cousins and he asked if he could go to bed. Ummm, excuse me?? So, to bed he went but the poor guy didn’t get much sleep–he was up most of the night with the most horrendous, croupy cough. I took him into the doctor’s on Monday, and the nurse practitioner confirmed it was croup and recommended running a humidifier in his room 24/7. So we did.

From that Monday to Friday our schedule went like this: Kieran seemed to get better, we’d leave the house, and then he would get sick again. By sick, I mean a fever, coughing, and runny nose. That weekend (so it’s been a full eight days now) Kieran was kept inside, and on Monday we went back to the doctor. My biggest concern was that it had been a week and a half and he was not getting any better. The doctor agreed that this was odd, and did a nose swab. Fifteen minutes later we got the results—Influenza A, better known as the Swine Flu.

The doctor repeatedly told me to “not freak out”. Luckily, it takes a lot to freak me out, so it was easy to follow his advice. For the next seven days, Kieran was kept indoors, took it easy, and was on Motrin 24 hours. I don’t think the kid minded it one bit—he was able to watch as much television and play as many computer games as he wanted. During that week, Kieran had typical flu symptoms: he threw up a couple of times, had a cough, runny nose, and a slight fever.

Finally, finally, finally, after the 14th day it broke, and we were able to enter the outside world again. The most amazing thing? No one else—not his baby sister, not the neighbor who he shared a Popsicle with—caught it. –Alex

Advice from a Pediatrician:

Chelsea contacted Breezy Mama advisor and Pediatrican Dr. Gillin for an update on the Swine Flu. Here’s what she had to say:

After Alex’s son had Swine Flu recently, she was told Swine Flu is different than regular flu because it occurs in warm months and the regular flu only hits in winter.  Do you agree? Does this mean Swine Flu isn’t a concern this winter?
Swine Flu will likely continue through the winter. This is not a summertime only virus. We will see what happens this winter–if it gets stronger or not.

What is the latest–Is Swine Flu similar to any other flu virus or should we be more concerned?
We are waiting to see what happens. Right now, it is acting like the seasonal flu in some ways–mild in strength, but it seems to be easier to spread, and affecting different age groups differently.

When will the vaccine be ready?
It should be ready fairly soon. We do not have any [in our office] yet.

Do you recommend we have our children get the vaccine?
Probably, but I want to see the specific data before I recommend it.  It is similar to the seasonal flu vaccine, so it should be safe and effective, but I will reserve my recommendations for after I have seen the data, when the vaccine is available.

UPDATE: Dr. Gillin has updated her answer as of 10/21/09: “I absolutely recommend it- the data was good, it is recommended by the AAP, CDC, and local authorities, and there have already been so many given out without any problems!”

Alex was told the only way to help treat it is if your child gets diagnosed within 24 hours. What signs can we look for to be able to get this treatment?
The signs are fever, and flu like symptoms: cough, sore throat, body aches. At this point, otherwise healthy children over the age of one do not need treatment unless they have other medical problems, or are hospitalized. (Breezy Mama note: when Alex got this advice, the pediatrician was really talking about her baby–he wanted her to come in right away if the baby showed any flu signs whatsoever.) Really what you are looking for there is pneumonia–difficulty breathing in the chest–I am not talking about a stuffy nose, but labored breathing in the chest.

Is this consistent with what you are telling your patients? How do you advise them to treat it?
1. Home flu remedies–rest, fever reducers if needed for comfort, and lots of liquids.
2. Look for signs of respiratory distress–again, labored breathing, not a stuffy nose. If your child has medical problems or is less than 1 year old, then you should get evaluated.

As a mother, what do you want other parents to know?
Right now, it is mild. But I do want to emphasize how important it is to protect ourselves–one day we knew nothing about Swine Flu, the next day our world was in panic. Protect your children by immunizing (hey, no one is going to come and knock on your door to tell you that a disease has arrived in our country), and use control measures to prevent the spread of infection.

So, for immunizing, I recommend getting the seasonal flu vaccine now, and be ready for the Swine Flu vaccine when it becomes available, and when your pediatrician recommends it. But also make sure your child is vaccinated against other infections (Prevnar protects against meningitis, but also pneumonia!).

Control measures–wash your hands, AND STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK! That means no fever for 24 hours! Did I mention 24 HOURS?!!? If your child had a fever last night, and in the morning they feel okay, do not send them to school–that is not 24 hours! Children should be taught to wash their hands after touching things, and before eating.

Are there any other new viruses we should be concerned about now that school is back in for some and starting soon for others?
So far so good!

photo_gillinShakha Gillin, M.D., F.A.A.P. attended UCSD for her undergraduate education and medical school (and if she looks familiar that’s because she’s the twin sister of Breezy go-to dermatoligist Dr. Vi). She practiced pediatrics in La Jolla for 5 years before joining El Camino Pediatrics. She has also worked in private practice in Newport Beach and in the Rady Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. Dr. Shakha Gillin has a special interest in preventative care, particularly healthy and active lifestyles for children. She was recognized by San Diego Magazine as a “Top Doctor” in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. She also organizes the North County Pediatric Journal Club, an every other month meeting where local pediatricians discuss the latest pediatric medical topics.

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Comments

  1. Hello, I Read Ur Article its Really Good And Informative, Also good content based on swine flu, which is the most current fear, everyone in minds. I really like this Article and also request to u that please keep it up….
    I have some important comment on swine flu which is available on this link http://www.jiyohealthy.com/2009/08/swine-flu-rumors-in-india and also tell your comments

  2. Yikes Alex, scary. My brother (pediatrician) says that once school starts up we will see a lot more swine flu. Parents need to be very careful NOT to send their kids to school if they have a fever. This should help keep it out of our schools. Also, make sure your child knows how to wash hands properly (sing happy birthday while scrubbing) or send an antibacterial hand foam with them to school. I know many teachers who don’t watch the kids wash their hands so who knows if it’s getting done properly or at all!!! Parents need to teach their kids how to wash hands and not rely on the teachers! I am not trying to put down our teachers (I am one), it would take to much time out of the school day to watch every preschooler wash their hands!

  3. Great point Katie–too often I am rushing and skip out on making Kieran (or me for that matter!) wash his hands for the full 30 seconds.

  4. Heidi Ferrer says

    Alex,

    Wow, scary. I’m so glad Kieran is better! This is great information to have, thank you. One caution about hand sanitizers at school- if children eat the gel, it has a really high alcohol content. A story was going around about dispensers on the walls in schools being a potential concern. I use them, just don’t let my little one have access to it- he’s only 2. Thank you for taking some of the fear out of the swine flu!

    -Heidi

  5. Very true Heidi, I could just see kids taking it from the wall dispensers and doing something silly, like eating it. When I was in elementary school, I remember the big scandal were kids sniffing Binaca breath spray. Yuck!

  6. Valerie Sorrells says

    Alex,
    Thank the universe for Kieran’s recovery and that no one else got it.
    You are a stong and good mother. It is good to know you need to keep calling the Doctor when your child continues to be sick.
    Best,
    Valerie

  7. Thank you for this useful post, and I’m so glad your child is doing better. So so scary.
    Cameron from
    Conquer The Monkey

  8. Yikes! So glad Kieran is doing better and that the rest of you (including baby Emily) were able to avoid the virus. Thanks for the tips, let’s hope our children (and ourselves too!) stay healthy this fall and winter.

  9. That is scary Alex! So glad to hear Kieran is better. And kudos to you for not freaking out right away. I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t. With school starting it is definitely going to increase in numbers and that scares me. I am defintiely going to have my son bring hand gel in his backpack and have a talk about the importance of hand washing and using hand gel. As a preschool teacher I have my kids sing the Happy Birthday song while they wash their hands but I think my 3 year girl old follows this better than my almost 7 year old boy. So I will stress the importance yet again when he gets home today. One teacher next door is telling the kids its not okay to shake hands, high five, etc as a preventative measure. I know our teacher said she is having them wash their hands alot but when we discussed the severe peanut allergy in the classroom this year, I asked if she was making sure they wash after coming back from lunch and recess to remove and traces of peanut butter sandwiches and she said that is a good idea. So I am thinking that they have not been doing that thus far. Yikes! That is when the most germs get picked up, not to mention the scare factor if the kids have traces of their PB&J from lunch and bring those back to class where that child with the severe allergy is.

  10. We were told at work (by ER docs) that just because someone tests positive for Influenza A, it is not necessairly the swine flu. There are many strains of Influenza A. Only the CDC is testing to see if it is for sure the Swine. I’m glad your son is ok. I have seen the opposite working in a busy emergency room. Symptomatic treatment is the usual with addition of Tamiflu if they test positive for Influenza A.

  11. I somehow hit on a link that brought me here & thought I might comment on your story. Also, thank you for the great information. So glad your son & the rest of your family are doing well.
    My son was diganosed with the novel H1N1 flu (my child didn’t like me to call it the swine flu) this summer. I went to pick him up from school one Thursday afternoon & he was sitting in the office. They told me that he was not acting like himself & had a low grade fever. They also told me that there had been 6 children out that week with colds/fevers (none of which were tested). His fever spiked to 103.4 during the night so I took him to the doctor Friday morning. He still had a fever & was not eating well but no other symptoms, well, that is til we got to the doctor & he threw up. He was acting fine & didn’t have the sick look. She took the nose swab & it came back positive. After, she told me that she had almost not done the test cause his fever wasn’t that high & he looked/acted fine. She gave us a prescription for Tamuflu, which is great, his fever broke that night. He stayed fever free & went back to school Tuesday! His family all stayed well too,

  12. I’m very glad your son is doing better.
    If we recognize that colds like the flu are contagious
    and hard to recognize the difference in the early stages.
    At the first sign stay home with your child. Currently that is the best way to control the virus.

    This is especially true for parents with kids in daycare.

  13. Bubba Coffee says

    Glad Kieran recovered— if indeed this story is not a work of fiction altogether. It has been proven in FOIA documents that individuals are sometimes paid to go on blogs to post slice-of-life stories like this to promote an agenda. I’m not necessarily supposing that here, but there will be mounting pressure to have you accept the seasonal flu and swine flu shots. You should tune out the media and possible work of propagandists and do your own research online to determine what is best for your family.

  14. Charlene — thank you for the interesting info.
    Lea — thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad your son has recovered and that your family stayed well!
    Dugan — we’re glad Kieran is better, too!
    Bubba — Thank you for not “supposing that.” This was definitely not a paid post, but a true story. The pediatrician interview within the post says she wants to see the data before she recommends kids have the vaccine. So, I agree with you that everyone should do their research and find out their own pediatrician’s recommendations. Breezy Mama has never done a paid post. Please take note of our ‘Blog with Integrity’ banner.

  15. Reading so many articles about it… To be afraid, or not?

  16. Sure, why not. But what will be next?

  17. I just found out today that a little boy in my sons class(who is also on his football team) has swine flu. Should I be concerned? We had a birthday party lastnight and all of our friends and family were there. i’m afraid of my sonbeing sick, and now all of my family and friends getting sick. Help please!

  18. Hi Amber,
    According to my pediatrician, my kids have been exposed to it, too. So far, they haven’t come down with Swine Flu though. And, as Alex mentions, her daughter never caught it from her son nor did Alex or her husband. Just take every precaution (lots of hand washing, etc.) and speak to your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

  19. Glad to hear Alex recovered! Well, my 6 year old daughter had the swine flu too and five days after she was sick my five year old son got sick too. She was sick for 6 days until fever broke and my son was sick for four days because I gave him tamiflu. I also have a two month old son and thank GOD he didn’t get sick. My husband and I didn’t get sick either and I’m thankful for your article because I was able to relate to it. I was so worried about both my babies and i couldn’t sleep for days thinking if my 2 month old was going to get it or myself. So far its been 9 days fever free and my baby, husband and I have not come down with it. Crossing my fingers. Thanks for sharing your story.

  20. reading this eased my worry slightly… my daughter is 16 month old & im so paranoid about her getting swine flu that i dont even want to leave the house unless to family functions, ofcours. she’s so young i dont know if it could become fatal ( everyones fear right!?) but my other concerns are about the h1n1 vaccine!! is it safe?? it contains mercury & ulluminum, so ive read online… i DONT really know the facts & i guess that is what scares me. what advise can you give me, im driving my husband nuts! im so undecided & just want the best for my baby ~sincerley,
    BRANDY 🙂

  21. Hi Brandy, You have every right to be worried–but you can’t let it take you over. Make sure to leave the house or you and your daughter will go stir-crazy! Just make sure to wash hands like crazy, don’t share sippy cups, etc. For some more ways to prevent the swine flu, check out the story we posted on the Seahorse Lounge:
    http://breezymama.ning.com/forum/topics/practices-for-preventing-the

    Another discussion on if you should get the shot:
    http://breezymama.ning.com/forum/topics/to-get-the-swine-flu-shot-or

    Good luck!

Trackbacks

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