Mother Knows Best

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Sitting down to watch their favorite daily series, 15-year-old Ahmed and his small family wait in a loving atmosphere. Suddenly, he hears “etchiu!”; the sound of his eight-year-old sister, May, sneezing. He notices her and looks around, but no one is paying attention. A few minutes later, another “etchiu!”; the little girl sneezes again with no response whatsoever. Whenever someone speaks, Ahmed pays much attention but only to find them talking about another life matter.

Ahmed becomes very worried because, today, he feels a sore throat and nasal congestion, although he has tried to hide this. He looks at his parents and wonders at their disinterest in his sister’s frequent sneezing. The same thing happened to him three months ago and the family raised the emergency level to the maximum. At the time, Ahmed was suspected to have been infected with COVID-19 and was isolated in his room. “What has changed? Do our parents treat us differently?” Ahmed asks himself as the thoughts engulf him. All of a sudden, “etchiu!”; he hears again that alarming sound, but now it is the father who sneezes!

Ahmed looks around again and realizes that his father has not left the home for a week. He also recalls when he went out to buy some household supplies for his mother two weeks ago; he met their neighbor, uncle Ismail, who he learned yesterday has been infected with COVID-19. Ahmed tries hard to remember the details of their meeting and becomes more anxious and confused. “I was wearing a protective mask. I kept a safe distance between us. When I returned home, I washed my hands correctly too!" Ahmed wonders. Did I catch the virus? Will I destroy my family?”

Ahmed watches his mother’s reactions for she is a retired doctor; finally, he hears her comment: “We have talked several times about not drinking cold water, right? Please wash your hands again and rest; I will make us all some warm lemonade,” says the mother as she heads to the kitchen. “Lemonade!” says Ahmed astonished. He sneaks to the kitchen to share his thoughts with his mother. He tries to think out loud, so his words come out: “I do not drink cold water, but I have pain in my throat. Cannot you feel anything, mom?” The mother laughs and says: “I have been following you, my son, since your sister’s first sneeze, and I have seen the bewildered look in your eyes. Do you think we are infected with COVID-19?” He replies, “why not? They are the symptoms, mom, do not you notice that? Our neighbor...,” she interrupts him, “calm down, my dear, it is seasonal influenza!”

The mother adds: “Do you think that your mother would overlook such a thing? Do not worry, dear; I am monitoring any health changes in our home daily. You are well-aware of the COVID-19 symptoms, thanks to media campaigns, but you should be aware of the symptoms of influenza as well, and the similarities and differences between them. Both viruses infect the respiratory system and are contagious; they can be transmitted through contact and droplets. Some of their symptoms are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them, so diagnostic testing can help. However, based on the best information available to date, there are major differences between them. For example, the influenza viruses may cause mild or severe illness, including common flu symptoms, but the symptoms of COVID-19 may include other symptoms, such as changes in smell and taste.”

“The exact timing of seasonal influenza can vary, but its symptoms often appear from the end of September through the end of winter. This year, we have been busy following COVID-19 and forgot to take the vaccination although this year it was more essential than ever. Even though the flu vaccine will not protect us from COVID-19, it can reduce the risk of catching the flu, and can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19. That is why public health measures are important and sufficient to prevent infection. Your father and sister, thank God, did not have any complications, but you have been busy playing games and social networking and did not notice that they have made the necessary tests too, and they are getting much better.

As the mother finishes making the lemonade, she gives Ahmed one, saying “I am your mother, and I know you better than you know yourself. Now, you have to stay away from your father and sister, and help me ensure that they adhere to the preventive measures so we do not get sick too.” At that time, Ahmed feels comfortable, forgetting the pain in his throat, and thanks his mother, saying: “You are right, mom, you know best!”

References
cdc.gov/coronavirus
cdc.gov/flu
cdc.gov/flu/prevention
cdc.gov/flu-guide-for-parents
who.int


Cover image: Family vector created by pikisuperstar - www.freepik.com

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