Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Last night Smiley suddenly had a high fever. Since his afternoon nap he had been irritable and clingy.

We're not sure how high the fever was, but our digital thermometer read 101.2 Fahrenheit in his armpit so it was at least that. We started him on toddler ibuprofen, which soon removed the fever.

Currently none of the colds going around in Eugene have both a sudden onset of fever and muscle aches. Also, the seasonal flu has not yet reached Eugene. So anyone with both those symptoms nearly certainly has H1N1. My wife was wiped out by that flu for most of last week. Smiley cannot tell us about muscle aches, but it's nearly certain he caught the H1N1 flu from my wife.

So Smiley visited the doctor today. We had a nice bike ride there and back.

Although Smiley is currently almost symptom free (just more tired and clingy than usual), the high likelihood he has a flu caused the doctor to give us a guarded recommendation for prescribing Tamiflu (drops twice per day for five days).

The drug is still quite effective against Oregon's H1N1. It will probably do very little: perhaps shorten the duration of Smiley's flu by one day.

But the small chances, that we'll probably not see, are what matter most.

There's a small chance that Smiley could experience Tamiflu side effects. Among toddlers these usually look like aggravation, caused by spaciness, confusion, or even hallucinations. If his behavior changes we stop the medicine and the side effects soon stop too. (This chance is supposed to be very small, but both the doctor and drug store had lately seen more cases of it than the official statistics predict.)

There's another small chance that Smiley could develop pneumonia. Pneumonia can be extremely bad news for a 19-month-0ld. The chance of him developing pneumonia is affected by lots of current conditions and impossible to know accurately, but is probably greater than the chance of Tamiflu side effects. And if it did happen it would be much a more dangerous problem.

Tamiflu's main benefit is that it reduces the chance of pneumonia to nearly zero. We're basically swapping a chance of pneumonia for a chance of a few hours of spaciness/confusion. That's an easy choice.

UPDATE: Someone comments, "People are more likely to be trippy in Eugene?" Heh.

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