Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away: Strep, The Flu and How White Blood Cell Count Can Indicate Viral or Bacterial Infection

This has been a tough month for our family health wise because both my kids were sick. My son had the flu and a high fever for six days. It was at the point where the doctor was calling us to make sure he was okay. My daughter had strep in January which was resistant to the antibiotics so she is now on a second round of them. My kids hadn't had any kind of medicine in almost two years and I am not a fan of antibiotics after my son got so sick from them at 18 months so it was quite a shock to have to put my daughter on a powerful antibiotic.

It was interesting to learn they can test whether they are sick from a virus or bacteria by taking a finger prick and looking at the white blood count. If it is low they are probably fighting a virus. If it is high, it is more likely a bacterial infection. Our doctor took this test on day 3 of the fever just to confirm it was probably a virus. On day six of the fever the doctor did the test again and said if the white blood cell count had gone up then it meant it was bacterial. But it hadn't gone down, which suggested a virus again. Then he did a swab test using the mucous from his nose to confirm it was the flu. Both the doctor and I were both ecstatic that it was the flu because it was nice to know what we were dealing with and that it wasn't something that was scary or something scary that needed antibiotics. The doctor said if his fever continued he would need to know about it because he wanted to make sure it didn't become some sort of super infection.

At this point I started doing research on the flu and came up with Vitamin D as a factor and possibly a treatment for the influenza virus and we started a multivitamin and vitamin D and he got better. Sometimes mainstream testing can suggest an alternative treatment and that a child doesn't need medicine, as in my son's case. Other times, mainstream testing can suggest that medicine might be indicated, as in my daughters case. I am told that strep is one case where you really need the antibiotics. But I have also heard of people using homeopathic and alternative treatments and taking titers to check if the strep had gone away. Despite my long list of doctors and holistic practitioners, we don't have an alternative support system to do this
kind of treatment. The people I know who have success fighting strep using alternative methods are actually practitioners and homeopathic doctors and I have to say that this is one area where I am not an expert and have to defer to others.

It was interesting for me to get to a point where nutrition wasn't the answer and I had to face not really having enough information to be the expert. It was humbling to admit, to myself and the doctor "I know what I know and what I don't know--and this is beyond me. Both kids are better now and I am happy January is over and I am not dealing with a feverish child who is waking up all night.

But back to nutrition...my son became intolerant of apples (and oranges and egg yolks) in December and they were a mainstay of our diet--which I think kept our family healthy. So although he is healthier without these foods in many ways, the saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" might actually be true. Of course, his whole preschool and everyone I know was sick so perhaps it was inevitable. The one thing that I have learned this month is that I really don't know everything...as painful as that is to admit.


Our Family Is His said...

Ah yes, the sickies. We have had them since our oldest son entered his special preschool. Sigh. Literally, someone in this house has been sick since 11/5/08. It's not been little runny noses either. However, due to really educating myself, we have gotten to stay out of the doctor's office almost completely and when we did go it was no antibiotics but to get help with a symptom that was just unmanageable.

My youngest has developed even more allergist/intolerances. We are now seeing cow's milk, soy (even tiny traces), any type of wheat or oat. Yeah. At least that last one is easy for us around here. But he, unlike his brother, can't cheat or the red cheeks come and it just gets worse.

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Betsy said...

When we lived in Germany our pedi always did the finger prick before giving antibiotics. I like knowing that we were not giving meds that were not needed.

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