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What Should an FM or ME/CFS Patient Do About the Swine Flu?

  [ 70 votes ]   [ 8 Comments ]
By Dr. Charles Lapp, MD* • www.ProHealth.com • September 8, 2009


Reproduced with kind permission from the August issue of Dr. Lapp’s free e-newsletter (www.drlapp.net/news.htm)
___________

In June 2009 the World Health Organization declared that the spread of a novel H1N1 Swine Flu had reached pandemic levels. At the time of this writing, the swine flu has become widespread in the southern United States, especially the Southeast. However, the illness prevalence, the number of doctor visits, and the morbidity is still no worse than the usual seasonal influenza. It is expected that the number of cases will increase as school resumes because H1N1 is rapidly spread by coughing and sneezing, hand-to-hand, or hand-to-body contact.

Many patients have been alarmed by reports of the seriousness and infectivity of this new flu, and have asked if vaccination is advisable. Our usual recommendations on influenza vaccinations are:

• That they have been known to trigger flares of CFS/ME/FM,

• That many PWCs to do not respond to vaccination anyway,

• And that viral infections are uncommon in most PWCs due to upregulation of the immune system.

Therefore, we would recommend seasonal flu vaccination only if you have tolerated these well in the past and if you are at high risk.

Because the current swine flu is so novel, a new vaccine needs to be produced. This is not expected to be available until late October.

Unlike seasonal influenza, H1N1 mostly attacks younger age groups, particularly under age 24. Vaccine availability will be limited, so it will be offered to specific target groups first. These include:

• Pregnant women,

• People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,

• Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel,

• Persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old,

• And people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for novel H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

We do NOT consider the immune system in CFS/ME to be compromised to the point of being “high risk” unless there is a history of frequent viral infections and/or pneumonia.

Based on information available at this time, H1N1 immunization may not be available to the majority of our patients until late Fall, perhaps well after the swine flu peak. Therefore, we are recommending that our patients:

• Avoid crowds and sick people (especially coughers and sneezers!),

• Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand cleansers,

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your bare hands.

The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people include fever, cough, sore throat, and runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, possibly diarrhea and vomiting. If you suspect that you have contracted swine flu:

• Immediately contact your primary care office or Hunter-Hopkins for advice and possibly medication

• Avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides

• Consider wearing a surgical face mask if others are around you

• Recognize these warnings signs and seek medical assistance immediately for difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, increased confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

In lieu of swine flu vaccination two antiviral medications can be taken to reduce the symptoms and severity of the illness.

These must be started within 48 hours of illness onset, and are not recommended for prevention of the flu. The adult doses of these medications are:

Tamiflu / oseltamivir (75 mg tablets taken twice daily for 5 days) or

Relenza / zanamivir (two inhalations twice daily).

For more information go to the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

* Dr. Charles Lapp, MD
Hunter Hopkins Medical Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
drlapp@drlapp.net
10344 Park Road, Suite 300 - until October, then:
721 Carmel Executive Park Drive, Suite 320
Charlotte, North Carolina 28226
____
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is general and should not replace the attention and advice of your personal physician. Nor is it meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.



Please Discuss This Article:   Post a Comment 

swine flu
Posted by: AuntTammie
Sep 9, 2009
Personally, I'm far more worried about the effects from vaccinations, should they become mandatory, than I am from the flu. After all, I have most of those symptoms most of the time anyway! And, since we do tend to have many of the symptoms on a regular basis, how are PWC's supposed to really have any idea if we are getting the swine flu? Seriously, is there really any way that we can differentiate between the flu symptoms and CFS symptoms? Also, if these symptoms are so darn bad, then why hasn't anyone in govt become concerned about CFS? It could well be considered a pandemic, too, and one that people often do not recover from (unlike the flu, which generally goes away after about a week). Gee, which one really causes more damage and should get more focus? Yes, I am saying this a bit sarcastically, given the political garbage surrounding CFS, and the true reasons that the govt refuses to actually do something real (ie: physical, not psychological) for PWC's.
Reply Reply

 
Sorry, AuntTammie
Posted by: restless4vr
Oct 4, 2009
I guess the Fibro Fog is at work!

 

 
As you should be, Afraid
Posted by: restless4vr
Oct 4, 2009
Aunt Annie, I'm with you on being afraid of the vaccine rather than the illness. I eventually was diagnosed with CFS/FM after a long illness with Chronic Epstein Barr Virus/Mono which was brought on after receiving the Flu Vaccine. I absolutely believe that the flu vaccine started all my problems. I have other underlying health problems, eg. Heart disease, diabetes, IBS, other digestive problems, gerd, barrett's esophogus but still feel it's in my best interest not to get the H1N1 vaccine because I think it may cause more problems. Three years ago when I got the flu vaccine, within a week or two I started get sick every other week or so. After so many weeks my Doctor tested me for viruses or infections and found I had Mono which was severe. I dealt with this and continued working for 6 months and was not getting better. That is when it was determined that I was no longer dealing with Mono, but CFS and later diagnosed with FMS. I no longer get the flu shot each season and I'm also afraid to get the H1N1 for fear that it my cause further problems. Also, I don't know all the facts, but there has been some reports stating the this H1N1 vaccine may be causing people to develop Guillain-Barre syndrome. This is a brief definition of this syndrome. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is an uncommon disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and numbness in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body. I'm don't think I'd like to take the chance of adding this to the list of problems I already have.

 


What Should an FM or ME/CFS Patient Do About the Swine Flu?
Posted by: jhampton
Sep 9, 2009
I suffer from Systemic Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, IBS, Gastroparesis, Migraines and all the associated problems that go along with this condition (too many to list.) I was diagnosed with Lupus or Scleraderma back in 1996 or 1997. I have been in remission since 2002. Due you consider me to be at High Risk? When I get the flu I am horribly sick. I have been getting the regular flu vaccines since 1996, but I have still had several bouts with the flu. If you think I should get a flu shot this year, which one do I ask for, regular flu shot or H1N1? I love ProHealth News letter! Thank you for all you do to help those who suffer from this unpleasant condition. JHampton
Reply Reply

new conditions create new questions
Posted by: justplainsandi
Sep 23, 2009
in the past i've rejected flu vaccinations. earlier this year my circumstances changed radically. i had surgery for crohn's disease and one single trace of very early-stage cancer. all was removed, and now i'm taking 50 mg./day of the immunosuppresant azathioprine. i'm also 70 and have not had the flu that often, but got pretty sick some of the times that i did. none of those cases required hospitalization, just very long bed rest. i have a lot of food and drug sensitivities, and am fortunate in having doctors who will work in cooperation with what i can learn thru my own efforts. my doctors highly recommends a flu shot, but none knows much about cfs/me/fm. will the azathioprine make me enough more vulnerable to make a flu shot advisable? will it make the vaccine more likely to take? or is this one more thing that cannot yet be known?
Reply Reply

Swine Flu & Flu shots
Posted by: CWB
Sep 24, 2009
With all due respect to Dr. Lapp, I think many of us are more vulnerable to the flu and dire complications. In an article entitled "Swine flu's tendency to strike the young is causing confusion" the LA Times reports: "Even as health officials anticipate a new onslaught of H1N1 cases, the pattern of the pandemic influenza strain -- which tends to be fatal for the middle-aged but not the elderly -- remains a mystery... For example, in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, half of the 48 deaths were in people in their 40s and 50s, according to figures from the government's health department. Though children and young adults have higher rates of H1N1 infection, the fatal cases are more likely to involve middle-aged adults because they have higher rates of the underlying medical conditions that make H1N1 deadly, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, said CDC spokeswoman Artealia Gilliard." (Sept. 18, 2009, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-flu-mysteries18-2009sep18,0,2108779.story). Being middle aged with underlying medical problems is exactly what most of PWC's are. The way my illness has presented over the last couple of decades, I'm particularly prone to catching viruses. I go down deeper and longer than otherwise healthy people. Way deeper and longer. I'm fortunate in that I have an infectious disease doctor who periodically does a full lymphocyte panel so that we can monitor my immune function. My lymphocytes and T cells are low, have been for years now, making me more susceptible to picking something up and harder for me to shake it. So I'll definitely get both a regular flu shot and the H1N1. As PWC's, while we have some things in common, we also have many dissimilarities. I'm writing all this because I'm afraid that many of my fellow PWC's are as susceptible as I am, and again with all due respect to Dr. Lapp, who of course had to address the tendencies of all of us, I don't think the cautions about who SHOULD get the shot came across strong enough. If you're unsure, try to get your doctor to check your immune system numbers. If your path sounds like mine, please don't delay in getting the shots. My heart is heavy with the comments/questions posed earlier. All of these unknowns show how much farther research needs to go so that doctors can answer each individual.
Reply Reply

As you should be, Afraid
Posted by: restless4vr
Oct 4, 2009
AuntTammie, I'm with you on being afraid of the vaccine rather than the illness. I eventually was diagnosed with CFS/FM after a long illness with Chronic Epstein Barr Virus/Mono which was brought on after receiving the Flu Vaccine. I absolutely believe that the flu vaccine started all my problems. I have other underlying health problems, eg. Heart disease, diabetes, IBS, other digestive problems, gerd, barrett's esophogus but still feel it's in my best interest not to get the H1N1 vaccine because I think it may cause more problems. Three years ago when I got the flu vaccine, within a week or two I started get sick every other week or so. After so many weeks my Doctor tested me for viruses or infections and found I had Mono which was severe. I dealt with this and continued working for 6 months and was not getting better. That is when it was determined that I was no longer dealing with Mono, but CFS and later diagnosed with FMS. I no longer get the flu shot each season and I'm also afraid to get the H1N1 for fear that it my cause further problems. Also, I don't know all the facts, but there has been some reports stating the this H1N1 vaccine may be causing people to develop Guillain-Barre syndrome. This is a brief definition of this syndrome. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is an uncommon disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and numbness in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body. I'm don't think I'd like to take the chance of adding this to the list of problems I already have.
Reply Reply

Swine flu
Posted by: jmkinsey
Oct 21, 2009
I've had ME/CFS for 22 years & am 71 years old. I had swine flu at the end of September & my doctor had me take elderberry, olive leaf, colloidal silver, vitamin D3 and lots of vitamin C in addition to the multivitamin I take which contains thymus gland. She offered to prescribe Tamiflu, but I did not feel well enough to go to the pharmacy. I only had fever for one night & although I lay on the couch for 5 days with the phone off I was able to cook for myself & on day 6 felt well enough to get in my car & go to the bank. No complications. I have had severe adverse reactions to flu vaccines in the past, so I avoid them. Now I'm ready to help my 24 year old grandson, who has no health insurance, should he get sick.
Reply Reply


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