There is a good Canadian Press by Michael Macdonald about the often long time it takes to make a full recovery from flu. A full blown case of classical influenza can really lay you low for days or weeks. People often report never having felt so sick. But once you are “recovered” and back to work or your daily activities you aren’t necessarily fully recovered:
Marga Cugnet thought she knew what she was in for when she came down with swine flu last October.
But the health administrator from Weyburn, Sask., said she was annoyed and somewhat dejected when the potent H1N1 virus left her with lingering symptoms that did not let up until earlier this month.
That’s five months of suffering through a hacking, post-flu cough and bouts of fatigue.
“I never went anywhere without having a bag of cough drops with me because I would just get into a coughing spell that wouldn’t stop,” said Cugnet, the 56-year-old vice-president of primary health with the Sun Country Health Region.
“I knew it could take months to go away, but I didn’t think it would last that long.” (Michael Macdonald, Canadian Press)
It’s not just a hacking cough, either. Months of enervation for some, moderate fatigue for others and not being as robust as before for many isn’t uncommon. These aren’t people who wound up in the hospital but people who suffered through the flu at home. The cost in lost work and productivity when a sizable fraction of the population is affected (Canadian public health authorities are estimating 10% to 30%) is staggering. And with pandemic flu the age distribution gets shifted to the left, with younger people who are working most affected.
There are a lot of bad diseases out there, but in terms of the sheer number of previously healthy people who can have their daily lives affected for a significant period, flu gets my respect.
The majority of cases (although not all) can be prevented by vaccination, especially in the younger age groups. That’s why governments push vaccination. I’m not so sure why many people resist it or don’t take the trouble to get it.
Maybe because they’ve never had a case of full-blown flu.