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27Aug/10Off

Colds, the Flu, and Other Painful Maladies

DISCLAIMER I really hate putting these things in here, but I feel that in today's letigious society it is absolutely necessary. That said, I am not a doctor! I don't even pretend to be one. These posts are merely my opinion and based on life experiences. If I made a mistake in this (or any) of my Blog entries, then I apologize. I also encourage you to post a comment and correct me. If you follow any advice or ideas in this Blog, you do so at your own risk! Enjoy!

I used to think that the word disease was simply dis + ease mixed together to explain what you were feeling. So, what is the root of disease? Well, next I thought maybe it comes from Latin (60% of English words come from Latin – many of them came indirectly through French). Wrong again! The Latin word for disease is morbus; which translates to morbid. So, the funny thing is, dis is a Latin word that means “not.” And, ease comes from early French and is originally believed to translate to “elbow room.” So, does disease mean “no elbow room?” HAHA! That rocks!

Next I moved on to Greek (which is where a bunch more of the English words come from) … Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.

All of that obfuscation, and I think we are back to square one … What the heck does disease mean, and where is its origin from?? I guess the simplest answer is that it is derived from French.

Cool tidbit: While investigating the origin of the word disease, I came across several references to Nosferatu. COo.oOL

Where were we? Oh yeah … We were defining the word, disease. So, because it is so cool, let’s agree that disease means “no elbow room.”

(:

All of this banter about such an elusive word is the perfect segue (pronounced like the little “green” scooter that has become so popular) into our topic of the day … Being sick! Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Flu
The flu is a viral respiratory infection. Approximately 1 out of 1,000 people die from the common flu. If you think about the odds of winning the lottery, or being struck by lightning, these odds are kind of scary.

So what does “flu” entail? Basically, the common flu is influenza, but there are many others including H1N1 (swine flu), H5N1 (avian/bird flu), H2N2 (Asian flu), and many others. Did you ever wonder what the “H” and “N” mean? Well, the flu is considered a “type A” virus, and they are divided into subtypes based on two viral surface proteins called hemagglutinin (the H) and neuraminidase (the N). There are 16 H subtypes and 9 N subtypes. Surface proteins can occur in many combinations, hence the H-N title. Obviously this categorization was created and compiled by someone way smarter than me!

The flu is easily transferred, because it’s airborne (transmitted by coughing and so on). It is caused by an RNA virus (tidbit: RNA viruses are also the cause of Hepatitis C).

Symptoms include fever, cough, headache, sore throat, enervation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It ain’t pretty!

That’s about the extent of my knowledge on the subject, so if you wanna deeper dive, go to medical school!

Cold
Unlike the flu, the common cold is a viral upper respiratory tract infection. More than 200 viruses are known to cause the common cold! Kids in Elementary can experience up to a dozen colds per year, and an average adult gets about three per year.

Did you know that the common cold is the most frequent illness and number one cause of sick days? I dig tidbits.

Symptoms include nasal stuffiness, sore throat, cough, sneezing, and sometimes a fever or headache.

A popular myth is that cold weather can cause the cold. This is simply not true. However, cold temperatures and winter weather can affect your immune system, which in turn would make you more susceptible to illness. I think that there is also a direct correlation with holidays. Think about it, at Thanksgiving we eat and drink WAY too much. Not to mention that we need to hang out with our family (and that stresses the hell out of us)! We get overly stressed about the upcoming holidays and having to buy gifts and send out cards. All the way through New Year’s Day we continue to overindulge in food and drink. Think about your poor immune system during all of this! Face it - that is why you are sick, not because you took the trash out traipsing bare footprints in the snow in only boxer shorts (am I the only one who does that?)

Allergies
Not sure why I decided to include allergic reactions in my virus post … But, there are a bunch of similarities. When you are experiencing allergies, you often get congestion, sinus stuffiness, and a sore throat. Not sure what else to say about these, except that severe allergy reactions can cause infection. And they SUCK!

Fun tidbit: Arizona used to be a haven for allergy suffering folk. However, due to the increasing number of people who moved there and brought plants from their hometowns, the allergy levels have risen to nearly the same as everywhere else! Also, scientists attribute some of the allergy problems in AZ to increasing pollution and rising temperatures.

Pneumonia
There is a plethora of types of pneumonia, and I do not know much about them. A long time ago, when my immune system was shot, I got pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). So, I know a little bit about it. Basically, what I know is, it ain’t pleasant!

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs. It can come from both bacterial and virus infection. Essentially the lungs fill with fluid and it becomes difficult, sometimes near-impossible to breath.

Symptoms include coughing, shaking/chills, chest pain (sometimes very sharp), fever, difficulty breathing, and loss of appetite.

Shingles
The medical term for shingles is "herpes zoster." It is a painful (sometimes extremely) rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you've had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive and in certain cases can become active again, causing shingles. Under normal circumstances, shingles affects older people. However, there are plenty of cases of young adults getting them as well. HIV+ people are famous for getting shingles, because it's more likely to affect someone with a suppressed immune system.

I had shingles when I was 20 years old. It was very painful and lasted for several weeks. My scars from that encounter have last since then. Because this is a nerve related issue, they often only appear in quadrants that are split up by the nervous system. In my case, I only got them in the top left of my face (apparently the face nerves are split into quadrants).

After the excruciating pain subsides, you get to endure a good bit of time with extreme itchiness. On top of that the sores are horrendous looking.

Flu and Pneumonia Shot
Get the flu shot every year. PERIOD.

Bacterial vs. Viral
This is a good time to talk about bacterial versus viral infections. Many people mix these two up. Unfortunately, even doctors are known for confusing them. This can lead to some issues related to antibiotic usage and the possible resistance build-up. Let’s tackle this subject briefly.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding antibiotics and when to use them. So, let me try and demystify it a bit. In its pure form, an antibiotic is ONLY used to attack bacterial infections. However, recently, folks have obscured the delineation between bacterial and viral. When people say “antibiotic” these days, it almost seems that they are actually talking about an anti-infection medicine.

It is possible for you to build up a resistance to antibiotics, that is why you often here your doctor saying that if you don’t have a bacterial infection, they will not prescribe you one. I have often gone in to see my doctor with a severe sinus infection, and she says, “This isn’t a bacterial infection, so we are simply going to wait this one out.”

In reality, you aren’t building up the resistance, the bacterium your body is dealing with is building up the resistance by mutating. This is all WAY to complex for me to explain (because I have no freaking clue what I’m talking about), so if you are sincerely curious about this, ask someone who knows more than me (pretty much everyone, including my five year old daughter!)

One point to make is that colds (as we discussed earlier) are viral. Therefore, antibiotics will not work fighting them. You simply have to bite the bullet and fight through it.

How to Avoid Getting Sick
Like I know the answer to this!! WTF do you think I am, a miracle worker? Okay, I do know a few things you can do to ensure you will avoid most of these things … But you ain’t gonna like it:

- Don’t smoke;
- Don’t drink;
- Eat healthy foods;
- Take a daily multi-vitamin;
- Drink plenty of water;
- Workout with weights;
- Do some form of cardio workout;
- Don’t stress (at work or home);
- Laugh;
- Get plenty of rest.

So now that we know it is pretty much impossible for you to do those things, let’s come up with two you can do. Vitamins and laugh. Pop a vitamin and read my Blog! Done …

What to Do When You Get Sick
This one is just a hair easier to answer. REST!

Not sure if this entry was helpful, but it was fun for me to write. I hope you enjoyed my banter. Stay safe, and stay healthy!

Until next time, this is your faithful friend, Vaughn, signing off!

p.s. This post is a chapter in my blog-book, The Secret to Longevity. Checkout my similar posts here: http://hivlongevity.com/the-secret. Or, follow the goodie trail:
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Posted by Vaughn Ripley

Comments (2) Trackbacks (3)
  1. I have the symptoms outline in the post.. Do I have hiv? Please help me I am really scared!

  2. Tim, symptoms are not a diagnosis of HIV. If you truly are concerned, I would recommend getting a blood test ASAP.