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Viruses are good for you

(126 Posts)
Edenviolet Wed 18-Dec-13 20:03:16


Took ds1 and 2 to gp today. Ds1 for the second time in four weeks and ds2 for the sixth time in four weeks.

Both have had temperatures, coughs, sore throats and earache and have had calpol and nurofen daily for four weeks and still have temperatures. I think they need antibiotics but gp said no then told me that "viruses are good for them, the more they get the stronger their immune system will be"

Utter rubbish.

Viruses are Not good for you. Dd2 got "just a virus" last year and ended up seriously unwell and with diabetes because of it. I am really annoyed that they keep dismissing us and say things like this when in fact viruses can actually cause a lot of harm

YANBU that viruses aren't good for you - I got one at 21 that ended up giving me Rheumatoid Arthritis. But YABU to expect antibiotics if it isn't bacterial. Anti Virals and Anti Biotics can have nasty side effects and can cause as much damage as not taking them, so the doctor probably has good reason not to prescribe.

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 15:46:41

We have been staying in as much as we can. In the last week or so ds2 has reverted to having two daytime naps again so he's getting plenty of sleep.

Ds1 always has to rest when he's ill or he gets really poorly, he's had two days in bed and has just been sitting down drawing today.

Artandco Thu 19-Dec-13 13:40:51

What are they doing when ill? Do you still try to get on as usual or do they properly rest.

I really think ours recover quickly if they ever are ill as they completely rest. When 2 year old was ill last month ( tired, whiney, 39.5 temp etc) we tried to spend most of the day in bed/ laying on sofa/sleeping/ fluids etc..

Elder child (4) had admittedly a boring ish day but was happy enough just playing with toys or reading with us.

The next day he was almost back to normal. In comparison friends seem to take theirs out and about/ doing things at home and making them eat as usual and they are always ill for a week)

Our v v rarely get ill (1-2 a year so far). One thing we do do is spend a lot of time outdoors. I know it's probably a myth but it does seem to keep them healthier. We are probably out 2-4 hours a day in winter, 6-8 in summer as minimum.

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 11:28:27

Maybe it is partly due to the eds? My four have it and they never seem 100 percent and are always so tired.

cory Thu 19-Dec-13 10:04:20

Hedgehog, your dc sound a bit like my dd when she was younger: endless infections and always took a very long time to get over something that her brother would throw off in a matter of days.

In the end we had her referred to a consultant in immunology who tested her for neutropenia. She did not have it, but one thing he did do was to explain that some children just have very late developing immune systems and that there isn't a lot you can do about it.

When I think about it, her uncle was the same: always ill as a child, and with virus infections that seemed to drag on forever.

In retrospect, I also think a lot of strain was put on her body by the stress of having Ehlers Danlos syndrome (joint pain and mobility issues) and that her poor immune reactions were partly a result of that. It is a lot better now she is older.

I would ask to have your ds sent for blood tests. They're not all that cruel and invasive and if there was anything wrong you'd need to know.

In our case it was just a case of sitting it out- but we needed to know that too.

candycoatedwaterdrops Thu 19-Dec-13 09:13:10

Not all bacterial infections will improve drastically with antibiotics either, they may dampen the infection a day or so quicker. However, doctors have to balance that against the chance of side effects which can be very unpleasant.

I have an autoimmune disease and I'm on 3 types of drugs that suppress the immune system, so any sign of infection e.g. cough for more than a week, UTI symptoms, I'm advised to take a course of ABs, even if it turns out it wasn't an infection! However, my GP has to weight up the probabilities and they feel that a course of ABs and all the nasty side effects (I always get horrendous thrush) is a better course of action that letting it linger and me ending up in hospital.

As others have said, viral infections are not less serious than bacterial infections, they just tend not to respond to antibiotics.

whatever5 Thu 19-Dec-13 08:58:12

*Actually yes they do, they teach your immune system what to attack (sort of).
Regular exposure to a variety of virii and microbes is what assists the immune system not to develop allergies.*

They don't "teach your immune system". You make antibodies to neutralise the virus if you get it again but if you don't get it in the first (or second) place you wouldn't need those antibodies would you?

I don't know of any good evidence that viruses stop you getting allergies. It could just as easily be the other way around (i.e. they could increase your susceptibility).

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 19-Dec-13 08:41:08

Tepid sponging isn't recommended as it fools the body into thinking its cooling down and instead the body increase its temperature further.

Paracetamol isn't recommended to try and prevent a febrile convulsion either, as it'll happen anyway as its to do with the speed the temperature rises.

Viruses can be serious, RSV for example can make some babies extremely ill.

Nowadays the guidelines say not to give calpol/nurofen just for a temperature, but if they're in pain or uncomfortable with it.

hopskipandthump Thu 19-Dec-13 08:25:13

DS1 has had many blood tests, with no problems. For young children these are done in hospital, and 'magic cream' (local anaesthetic) is applied 45 minutes before doing the test. At our hospital they are fantastic, have a brilliant distraction technique, and DS1 doesn't mind the experience at all.

With very young children though it can be difficult drawing enough blood. DD had a blood test at 20 months which didn't work because they couldn't get enough blood out of her little veins, and she got upset sad

hopskipandthump Thu 19-Dec-13 08:22:47

Viruses can and do trigger auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes in genetically pre-disposed people.

DS1 has coeliac disease - if you carry the gene for it (which a third of the UK population do) then this can be triggered by catching a virus, particularly rotaviruses. I think the D&V virus he caught when he was 16 months may have been the trigger.

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 08:22:29

Ds is 20 months so I doubt a blood test would be that upsetting for him and he wouldn't remember it afterwards I expect. Would be good to get some answers as whatever he has is lingering.

larrygrylls Thu 19-Dec-13 08:19:24

Viruses insert themselves into your DNA in order to replicate. For this reason, they can cause all sorts of problems (including cancer) later on. I never knew about diabetes but, having read about it, it seems perfectly plausible.

Hedgehog, given the length of illness that your child has endured, I would definitely be insisting on tests. That is surely the difference between modern scientific medicine and the middle ages. We can now look properly into things like blood and draw meaningful conclusions from it. Is a blood test really that distressing? I had one age 10 and remember it being quite interesting (as well as ever so slightly painful). It is a lot less painful than a vaccination.

Sirzy Thu 19-Dec-13 07:58:43

Is there a different GP you can see just for a second opinion?

Also nip to the pharmacist to see if they can advise anything. Perhaps something like tixylix will help sooth the throat/cough and stop some of the pain?

Bunbaker Thu 19-Dec-13 07:53:45

"Viruses don't give you diabetes. Just for info."

They can. Some viruses can trigger off conditions like diabetes in people who may be susceptible. They can also trigger off auto immune conditions in otherwise healthy people. DD's consultant explained all this to me on Tuesday.

How do you account for adults suddenly having thyroid problems, coeliac disease, rheumatoid arthritis etc? We think it was DD's second bout of chicken pox that triggered off her condition, but can't prove it.

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 07:51:50

Perhaps I am just over anxious. Its all so similar to how dd2 was this time last year and maybe that's causing me the extra worry. She had weeks of being unwell, then a terrible sore throat virus then v sick. Unwell Boxing Day and sugar in urine in three separate samples but misdiagnosed with a uti then the following week dx with diabetes.

I just wanted all dcs to be well this year!

Sirzy Thu 19-Dec-13 07:49:00

It is perfectly normal for a cough to linger for weeks after illness. Everytime DS had bronchiolitis as a baby we were warned of that. Now he is asthmatic and every chest infection or cold leads to coughing for months hence his constant coughing

I wouldn't worry too much about the temps as that is quite a low grade fever. Hope they pick up soon

larrygrylls Thu 19-Dec-13 07:39:10

There seems to be a lot of confusion in a lot of posters of what viruses and bacteria do and their effects on the body.

Both viruses and bacteria can cause mild or serious infection. Viruses, like bacteria, can be very serious and even deadly (think rabies, Ebola or even glandular fever). In addition, the idea that you can use the response to anti pyretics ( calpol, calprofen) to differentiate between viruses and bacteria is not well supported by research.

In practical terms, mild self limiting fevers just need bed rest and fluids. Any time symptoms compromise breathing, consciousness or any of the senses, they need urgent professional attention. Also, anything that drags on more than a few days should also be investigated.

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 07:38:33

When dcs are well their temp is usually around 36-37 never above but ds2 has not been lower than 37.4 for the last few weeks. He feels hot too and has that glazed eye look that they get when have a temperature.

The calpol etc is not just for temp, he's so miserable without it and just cries, once he's had painkillers and they've worked he's a lot better till they wear off again. We stick to the dose for age and never more frequently than min of four hours for calpol, 6 for nurofen but gp insists its fine to have it for so long but I'm not sure. Don't know what else to do really but we have been through so much medicine lately I keep mentioning to gp but they seem quite happy for dcs to keep having it.

Artandco Thu 19-Dec-13 07:33:04

Are you sure they have a temp? You mention 37.4, 38 etc. I don't think my childrens temp is ever below 37.8. When youngest was in hosptial last year they said they don't give calpol etc unless temp is 39 or above. Anything under is classified as 'warm' but something your body should and can cope with itself to control. Constently giving medicine at 38 will reduce how how effective your body copes when ill

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 07:28:04

I was a bit annoyed yesterday when I phoned to make the appt, they asked why and I explained about ds1 then that ds2 had been ill for four week seen gp x amount of times and was still not better and had a temperature.

They receptionist told me that she had looked at the summary of the last appt and it didn't mention follow up so I'd have to make a routine appt for after Xmas! I said ds2 needed to be seen the same day as he's only little and she was a bit off and had to speak to her line manager before giving an appt!

MinesAPintOfTea Thu 19-Dec-13 07:20:04

Your gp does sound quite rubbish though, I went to see ours about ds having a persistent cough and after she'd examined him and I'd told get why I was worried I was asked to make an appointment at about x date so she could check up on how he's doing. Same actual outcome but I felt pretty reassured that she was taking it seriously.

Edenviolet Thu 19-Dec-13 07:10:53

I thought it was odd that they've not done more, but they said viruses can linger and that the cough he has could linger for up to 8 weeks?? Something about his airways being "over sensitive" but I can hear that he has a lot of congestion in his throat/chest and he coughs up all sorts of nasty stuff (which matches what has been pouring out of his nose!).

Been up since 440 am as his temperature was 38.3 and he was crying. Now that the nurofen has started working he's a lot happier but hasn't eaten much breakfast.

I think I will take him back to gp again this afternoon and ask if he could have a throat swab or a blood test as he's been poorly for ages.

EugenesAxe Thu 19-Dec-13 06:55:45

This sounds weird and I'd be concerned about a GP condoning giving of Calpol/ Nurofen for so long. I'd ask for a call back from another doctor and discuss with them the length of time; were you explicit on this point?

Recently, DS (3.10) had high temp over four nights - between 39.5 and 40.1 - he always responded well to anti-pyretics but as he was not improving generally (and indeed, seemed to be getting worse in the day too) I took him to GP on day 5. He had enlarged, but not pussy, tonsils and she prescribed amoxyl as a precaution and said to administer if nothing had improved by end of Saturday. As soon as I told her his history she agreed I should start immediately. It cleared up within 24 hours. The point - most doctors seem to say this - is that viral infections clear within a week or so; bacterial don't. Unless you are being liberal with the truth, it seems an odd decision on the part of your GP not to prescribe.

ProudAS Thu 19-Dec-13 06:29:52

It also seems that exposure to bugs during infancy helps the immune system to prime itself and reduces the chance of developing allergies. That's why first born children are more likely to have allergies.

OrangeMochaFrappucino Thu 19-Dec-13 06:28:11

I really hope your children get better soon, OP, your description of your little toddler made me really feel for him and you - completely miserable. The first winter my ds went to childcare when I went back to work he seemed constantly ill with one thing right after another. It's awful, but he is a lot better now and doesn't get ill as frequently (realise I have just doomed Christmas with that remark!) so I really hope that this is all boosting your children's immune systems and that they all perk up soon. It sounds like you have had more than your fair share of health worries with them so I can see why your GP's response did not seem adequate.

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