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  1. #1
    Registered User Visionmonger's Avatar
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    Default How do you deal with an illness like the flu on the trail?

    Just curious, I have had a wicked flu bug invade my body last night and is still with me, shivering, sweats, headaches etc. I guess the simple answer is to hunker down and deal with it. The most effective med. that I have used so far has been ibuprofen. Any tips?
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    Are you talking about a weekend type of trip, a section, a thru --- ? Somewhat different strategies, depending on those and other factors. Like ambient temperature/weather, how difficult the trail is, how sick the person is, whether solo or not ... etc etc.

    On thru-hikes, FWIW, I've never been sick (!), and in fact I can't think of running into anyone else with a cold or flu or the like either. Less contact with people plus being in great shape (immune system cranked up) I guess.
    Gadget
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  3. #3

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    1. Go home (which is what I did, but I was near the end of a long section hike anyway - caught it from some collage kids putting on a beer blast at Overmountain shelter).

    2. Ride it out in a motel room (which is also something I did, at the start of a long section hike. I spent one really bad day/night at Icewater springs shelter [Smokie mnts] when I first came down with it and the only option was to get the heck out of there, since the weather was bad and getting worse. I think it was 4 days before I was strong enough to hike again).

    We all have our own cold remedies - mine is medium strength Salsa and lots of OJ.
    Last edited by Slo-go'en; 03-06-2012 at 18:36.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Visionmonger View Post
    Just curious, I have had a wicked flu bug invade my body last night and is still with me, shivering, sweats, headaches etc. I guess the simple answer is to hunker down and deal with it. The most effective med. that I have used so far has been ibuprofen. Any tips?
    One of the easiest things you could do for yourself is cache some water,It is very easy to become dehydrated when fever presents.Let people know your sick so someone traveling say north bound could ask a southbounder to check on you as they pass by and then they could do the same with a again traveling nobo.

  5. #5
    Registered User Visionmonger's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, all very valid options, I especially like the hotel room with chips and salsa. I totally understand that there are different strategies for all of us depending on our hike. I guess I was curious about you thru hikers, I am heading to Shenandoah for 10 days in April. Hopefully this will be the last of this stuff.
    "If you push something hard enough it will fall over."
    -Fudd's first law of opposition.

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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Visionmonger View Post
    Thanks guys, all very valid options, I especially like the hotel room with chips and salsa. I totally understand that there are different strategies for all of us depending on our hike. I guess I was curious about you thru hikers, I am heading to Shenandoah for 10 days in April. Hopefully this will be the last of this stuff.
    Get an antibiotic from your DR ahead of time, just in case. It'll speed up the recovery.
    Don't Die Before You've Had A Chance To Live!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by HiKen2011 View Post
    Get an antibiotic from your DR ahead of time, just in case. It'll speed up the recovery.
    No it won't. Do not take an anitbiotic for a flu which is caused by a virus! In fact, don't take an antibiotic unless it is 100% required to save your life. Like an infection.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
    Registered User handlebar's Avatar
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    Antibiotics are useless against flu----but handy for infections.
    Handlebar
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    No it won't. Do not take an anitbiotic for a flu which is caused by a virus! In fact, don't take an antibiotic unless it is 100% required to save your life. Like an infection.
    My bad, thought the flu was an infection. Sorry, I still take an antibiotic with me on longish hikes and get a flu shot every year. I could have swore though the one time I had the flu (sick for 2 weeks) my DR gave me one.
    Don't Die Before You've Had A Chance To Live!

  10. #10

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    Only ever had the flu once in all my hikes. I did low mileage that day (probably less than 10) and the next day wasn't a whole lot better.
    Once in Nepal I had it bad and again, did probably less than 5 miles, and spent a lot of time in the sleeping bag.
    Doesn't happen often.

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    It really would depend on what you had contracted as to the best actions.

    Doctors improperly throw medications at everything.
    You should always understand what medications you are taking and for what particular reason.

    Oh, and since most don't seem to know this yet - 99.99% of all "stomach flues" that are started by severe symptoms and go away within 12-24 hours is called FOOD POISONING. And unless you are dying, DO NOT treat that condition other than trying to stay hydrated with water (when you can drink and keep it down).

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    Registered User Papa D's Avatar
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    Totally depends on illness - you would have to wait out flu virus - you could do it in your tent with multiple zero days but it would be bad - a (rare) bacterial infection would require an antibiotic. I have had cold viruses and stomach viruses on trail and been "slowed down" - a couple of zeros / neros and then slowly pushing-on ....... a really bad flu or some other illness might be best handled by whatever medical help that you can find in whatever town you are in (Doc-in a box, maybe) and splurging on a hotel room for a few days if you can swing it. A truly horrible illness could send you home but that would be unusual.

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    Garlic
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    I'm with Gadget--the trail is a very healthy place especially if you pay a little attention to hygiene. I've never had a sniffle on a hike. I'm more likely to catch something when I come back to town and am around more people.

    Stay healthy on the trail by washing your hands and keeping others' hands out of your food. Eat well and stay hydrated. Treat small skin problems before they become big skin problems. If something starts hurting or breaking down, do something different or stop hiking.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by HiKen2011 View Post
    My bad, thought the flu was an infection. Sorry, I still take an antibiotic with me on longish hikes and get a flu shot every year. I could have swore though the one time I had the flu (sick for 2 weeks) my DR gave me one.
    Maybe because you demanded one? Lots of people do. I do not agree with MDs that prescribe antibiotics for people to carry on longish hikes unless there are special circumstances. Even if their patients demand to have some on hand in case they feel bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winds View Post
    It really would depend on what you had contracted as to the best actions.

    Doctors improperly throw medications at everything.
    You should always understand what medications you are taking and for what particular reason.

    Oh, and since most don't seem to know this yet - 99.99% of all "stomach flues" that are started by severe symptoms and go away within 12-24 hours is called FOOD POISONING. And unless you are dying, DO NOT treat that condition other than trying to stay hydrated with water (when you can drink and keep it down).
    We need to be more specific: are we talking about a stomach flu or gastroenteritis (GE), influenza, or food poisoning? The first two are viral and can't be treated with an antibiotic. Ironically, food poisoning can. All 3 require hydration and I recommend juices diluted half and half with water. Influenza, while a virus, can lead to secondary bacterial infections such as sinusitis and pneumonia which DO require antibiotics. So anyone treated with an antibiotic for a virus may have had a secondary bacterial infection so a doc prescribed an antibiotic for that. Dunno, though, I wasn't there.
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    Same treatment on trail as off trail. Stay warm, stay hydrated, get rest. Get off the trail if you can, but do not exercise when you have the flu. You can walk off a cold, if not in the lungs, but you should not walk off a fever. Try not to eat too much either. Starve a fever. Feed a cold.

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    I didn't have the flu, but some fever and upper respiratory thing starting out of Hot Springs. I hiked with a fever for 15 miles then quit at 2pm at a shelter to nap, forcing myself to eat (raman) something bland. Slept a lot. Next day felt better except for a tremendous snot nose and a terrible cough. I ended up getting up at night and going into the woods to cough to keep from waking up the other hikers. Lesson learned--two bandannas. Took a week but my cough dissappeared. Felt great otherwise. (Stayed away from as many people as possible)
    Turtle2

  18. #18

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    I eat and hydrate...even when I don't feel like it and it's seemed to work for me.

    One of the only times I've had the flu in the past 15 years was on a winter mountaineering trip in the Chugach range. One of our party started out with it and gave it to the rest of us. Made for quite an ugly trip but full of memories.

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