From common colds to COVID-19-Respiratory infections update 2020

This year’s cold/flu season is complicated by a new player- COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2. If you get sick, please do not assume your illness is “just the flu” ; this could have serious, perhaps fatal consequences for you and your loved ones.

Where I live, North America, we’ve just observed the first day of fall, also known as the autumnal equinox. And especially in healthcare, we unofficially view it as the start of the “cold and flu” season. To those of you in the southern hemisphere, happy spring. You also have a respiratory illness season during fall/winter.

Respiratory infections

By “cold and flu” we means acute respiratory infections caused by a variety of viruses including

  • influenza
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • adenovirus
  • rhinovirus
  • coronavirus

and less often several bacteria, most commonly

  • Streptococcus
  • Mycoplasma
  • Haemophilus
  • Legionella
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)

These cause diseases called by various names including

  • colds/flu
  • influenza
  • pharyngitis (throat infection)
  • otitis media (ear infection)
  • bronchitis
  • sinusitis
  • pneumonia
  • laryngitis
  • COVID-19
  • whooping cough
  • bronchiolitis-infants and children
  • croup-mostly children

This year’s cold/flu season is complicated by a new player- COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2.

Acute vs chronic

We call these illnesses acute because they (usually) come on fairly suddenly, run their course within a few days to sometimes a few weeks, and then resolve. Sometimes they don’t resolve and become chronic.

Some underlying factor may prevent healing. There may be a chronic condition that is out of control, or has not been previously diagnosed. You may need a doctor’s evaluation to determine whether it’s “just a cold” or perhaps asthma, COPD ,or allergic rhinitis.

Many of these illnesses tend to occur seasonally, such as influenza and RSV. Others can occur year round. So far we don’t know if COVID-19, due to the SARS-CoV-2 , will be year round or seasonal. Unlike influenza, it did not abate during the summer this year.

What are respiratory symptoms?

Symptoms of respiratory illness involve some combination of the nose, sinuses, ears, throat, larynx (voice box), trachea, bronchus, and lung

  • Sneezing, stuffy  or runny nose,
  • Sinus pain, pressure
  • coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath
  • sore throat, hoarseness
  • ear pain, fullness

often along with systemic symptoms such as

  • fever and/or chills
  • body aches, fatigue, 
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea 
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

 

Coping with respiratory illness

Although these infections make us miserable and can temporarily disable us from work and school, most otherwise healthy people recover uneventfully, even from COVID-19. Nevertheless, we should take them seriously.

 

 

Don’t panic.

Fever ,especially in children, alarms parents. Don’t ignore it but don’t panic either. Reading this post should help you keep calm about fever .

a woman taking her temperature
This photograph depicted a woman who was using a modern, battery-powered oral thermometer, in order to measure her body temperature. In order to return an accurate reading, this particular type of thermometer needed to be placed beneath the user’s tongue, for a set amount of time, beeping when the ambient, sublingual temperature was reached. Photo credit-James Gathany, CDC, public domain

Some  people are at risk of developing  severe symptoms and serious complications from respiratory illnesses, so seek medical help sooner, rather than later. These include

  • Infants, especially under one month old
  • Older adults,starting at about age 50, with risk increasing with age, especially combined with chronic disease
  • Those with chronic lung disease, like asthma, COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis
  • People who smoke cigarettes or vape
  • People on medications or with diseases that suppress the immune system
  • Serious chronic diseases – diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, cancer 
  • Obesity (a risk factor for COVID-19 complications)
  • Pregnancy

If you are not sure if you fit into one of these categories, ask your doctor.

Stay home.

These illnesses spread person to person, so minimize contact.

Keep your kids home from school and stay home from work, at least the first few days, when you are  the most contagious. When  there is widespread illness in your community, avoid crowds and public gatherings.

Resting, getting extra sleep, drinking fluids and staying warm and dry  make staying at home therapeutic.

Wash hands.

Speaking of person to person contact, the best way to avoid getting or giving germs is to wash your hands often, but especially after being with others ,using a restroom,  and before cooking or eating. Cleaning household surfaces helps too, as well as clothing and linens. Don’t forget to clean your cell phone, tablets, and keyboards too. Use hand sanitizer if hand washing can’t be done.

Wear a mask

You probably remember that early on in the pandemic, the CDC did not recommend wide spread wearing of masks. I suspect this was to prevent hoarding of masks (remember toilet paper? ) and because they did not know how widely the virus was circulating in the United States.

But that has changed; when experts learn new information they reassess and update recommendations. Whenever you expect to have close contact with people outside your household wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. In some situations, eye coverings are also warranted but that is not universally recommended now.

Use medication wisely.

Some of these illnesses have a specific medication that clear it faster- strep throat, influenza, pneumonia. The others will “run their course” and meds are used to help relieve symptoms.

Many people assume that any illness with fever, sore throat and cough will improve with an antibiotic. The fact is, most will not. Antibiotics only treat infections caused by bacteria, and most of these are caused by viruses. To learn more read about

These illnesses cause the greatest overuse of antibiotics, contribute to the cost of health care, and the development of antibiotic resistance. Please do not insist on an antibiotic if the doctor says you don’t need it; if offered an antibiotic, ask why.

 

 

6 smart facts about antibiotic use

 

 Be patient

The “24 hour virus” is for the most part a myth. Expect to be ill anywhere from 3 to 10 days; some symptoms, especially cough, can linger for weeks. If you are a smoker, this is a great time to quit. 

But if after 7-14 days you are not getting better or are getting progressively worse, something more may be going on, so it’s wise to seek professional medical help.

Is it flu or is it COVID?

The arrival of COVID-19 this year creates a dilemma since symptoms overlap other respiratory infections and the possible outcomes run the gamut of no symptoms to death.

So this year, if you develop respiratory symptoms, healthcare clinicians will likely test you for COVID-19 , both to guide your care and to protect your family, co-workers, and healthcare workers.

Please do not assume your illness is “just the flu” ; this could have serious, perhaps fatal consequences for you and your loved ones.

Prevention of respiratory infections

Respiratory infections don’t have to happen. We know that they are mostly spread person to person, so what we each do matters. So what can you do?

  • Stay home when you are ill.
  • Observe physical distancing when disease is spreading in your community.
  • Wear a mask when recommended by public health professionals.
  • Practice careful hygiene on hands and surfaces.
  • Get available vaccinations.

 

 

 

exploring the HEART of respiratory illness

I would love for you to share this  information (but not your germs) on your social media pages.

FLU VACCINE: We all have a role in protecting each other.
used with permission CDC

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.


Dr Aletha


Kristin Chenoweth’s memories and memorabilia- a book review

From the opening paragraph, Kristin is candid, no nonsense, transparent, and hilarious. She’s one of those “you never know what she’s going to say next” people and you don’t want to miss any of it. She is just as up front sharing her failures as she is celebrating her successes.

Kristin Chenoweth’s memoir chronicles her  successful career as a Broadway, television, and movie singer and actress. She is well known as good witch Glinda in Wicked.

Some of her career memorabilia is on display at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in her hometown. The theater there is named in her honor.

a banner-The Kristin Chenoweth Theatre
At the Performing Arts Center of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Every summer she returns to oversee a Broadway Bootcamp for aspiring young performers, but the camp was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On display at the PAC are Kristin’s jacket, shoes, and bag she used when she was a Tigette at Broken Arrow High School , in Broken Arrow Oklahoma.

A LITTLE BIT Wicked:Life, Love, and Faith in Stages

a memoir by Kristin Chenoweth

Like me, Kristin Chenoweth was born and raised in Oklahoma; unlike me, she is an award winning singer and stage, screen, and television actress.  She is loved and admired here in our home state, being an inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, as well as the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

large building with multiple windows
The Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center

I have been to the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in Oklahoma where she conducts an annual Broadway Bootcamp.  But I didn’t know much about her until I listened to the audiobook version of her memoir A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages, read by her. Now I almost feel like we are best friends.

From the opening paragraph, Kristin is candid, no nonsense, transparent, and hilarious. She’s one of those “you never know what she’s going to say next” people and you don’t want to miss  any of it. She is just as up front sharing her failures as she is celebrating her successes.

This part of the country is referred to as the “Bible belt” and Kristin admits to reading and believing it. So don’t be surprised when she mentions and even occasionally quotes from the Bible in her memoir. Like when she talks about the circumstances of her birth.

Kristin’s faith and family

Kristin was adopted at birth by a couple who had one child but were unable to have more. She describes herself as the product of “forbidden love.” Her biological mother was an unmarried flight attendant who became pregnant. Instead of  abortion or  raising a child alone, she opted for adoption. Kristin joined the Chenoweth family soon after birth.

Her adoptive parents have loved her and supported her career and she is immensely grateful to them.

Rather than being angry or bitter, Kristin is grateful to this woman who she says was kind enough to “let me go”. To illustrate, she tells a Bible story from the Old Testament about the wise King Solomon. It goes like this.

One day two women (prostitutes in some Bible versions) came to King Solomon,  and one of them said:

“Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us.

One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. 

Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me.

In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn’t my son.”

 The other woman shouted.

“No! He was your son. My baby is alive!”

The first woman yelled.

“The dead baby is yours. Mine is alive!”

They argued back and forth in front of Solomon,  until finally he said,

“Both of you say this live baby is yours.  Someone bring me a sword.”

“Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”

The baby’s mother screamed.

“Please don’t kill my son. Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.”

The other woman shouted,

“Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”

Solomon  pointed to the first woman saying,

“Don’t kill the baby. She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.”

Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.


From 1 Kings chapter 3 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society


She compares her birth mother to the woman who loved her child so much she would rather lose her than see her die. She believes,  “The ultimate test of love is letting go.”

And last year, after a lifetime of not knowing, Kristin met her birth mother, a meeting that thrilled both of them. In an interview with Katie Couric Kristin said ,

Not everyone can say that, but I count myself lucky to have a birth mother who loved me enough to know she wasn’t ready to be a mom. I’m lucky that I have wonderful parents who chose me. I often say adoption is a full-circle blessing and I truly believe it. Adopted children were not abandoned, we were chosen.

Kristin’s personal life

Unlike many entertainment celebrities, Kristin doesn’t seem to have any skeletons in her closet; she has avoided problems with alcohol, drugs, abusive relationships,  financial problems, or other scandals. 

Kristin makes living with  Meniere’s Disease sound like a sitcom. Meniere’s causes dysfunction of the inner ear, resulting in sudden, unpredictable, debilitating attacks of vertigo(dizziness),  nausea, and vomiting. Episodes resolves after a few hours or sometimes days.

There is no cure for Meniere’s except a radical ear surgery which might leave her with hearing loss. As a professional singer she doesn’t want to risk that, so she copes with the condition with humor and an unwillingness to let it stop her from fulfilling her work commitments.

a display case with trophies belonging to Kristen Chenoweth

Memorabilia from Kristin’s career on display at the theater in Broken Arrow

Kristin describes singing at her beloved grandfather’s funeral, and supporting her mother through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, showing that she has a serious side to her fun loving persona.

She sometimes feels caught between  the Christian community which criticizes her liberal social views and her friends with unconventional lifestyles who are turned off by her uncompromising Christian witness. As she puts it, she wants to love and help everyone in the same way Jesus did; she doesn’t want to take sides or exclude people just because they are different. 

Kristen Chenoweth's Antoinette Perry Award and pink hat.
Kristin’s Antoinette Perry Award

Kristin’s performing career

Kristin performs on the stage, movies, and television, and records albums. She won a Tony award as Sally Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

an evening gown on display next to a photo of Kristen Chenoweth
Kristen receiving her Tony Award, photo and her evening gown displayed in the theatre lobby

I hope you will read, or better yet listen to Kristin’s memoir.

She may be “A Little Bit Wicked”, but I think you will love her as much as we do here in Oklahoma.

a floor length, fancy pink and white dress covered in ruffles on the skirt

These are affiliate links which support this blog in sharing the HEART of health.

Enjoy Kristin’s singing

Listen on Apple Music to COMING HOME

Buy on the iTunes Store THE ART OF ELEGANCE  album

And find it on Amazon

Thanks for joining me to meet Kristin Chenoweth and see a little bit of our home state.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

WICKED- cover of a program from the musical

WICKED is a touching saga of love, friendship, betrayal, courage, and forgiveness.

After hearing how wonderful it is, I finally saw the touring production of WICKED and it is every bit as “wicked” as everyone says.

Although Kristin no longer performs in it, other actresses bring Glinda and Elphaba to life with singing, non-stop action, and gorgeous costumes.

It may be based on a children’s story, but WICKED is a touching saga of love, friendship, betrayal, courage, and forgiveness. Don’t miss it if you have a chance to see it.

You can stream the WICKED album free with Amazon Prime (affiliate link).


Dr. Aletha

Jackson Park, City of Broken Arrow sign

About Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

statistics from the City of Broken Arrow, 2020

  • Population- 113,000
  • Land area -61 square miles
  • Median household income -$82,831
  • Median home value-$163,900
  • Median age-37 years
  • 274th largest city in the U.S.A

Top 5 employers in Broken Arrow

Do you wonder how Broken Arrow got it’s name? Find out at this link.

History of the name of Broken Arrow

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