As India responds to the spread of Swine flu simple prevention tips from Dr Mehta, a doctor based in Bangalore include handwashing, gargling with warm water and drinking fluids. He urges us not to underestimate these inexpensive and
powerful preventative methods.
Dr Mehta has sent this unoffical note to friends:
H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper
respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of
entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this
nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in
spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a
problem as proliferation is.
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1
infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms
and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps - not
fully highlighted in most official communications - can be practiced:
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any
part of face (unless while eating, bathing, etc).
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you
don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the
throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms.
Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt
water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on
an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and
powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day
with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra
Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the
nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds
dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral
5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C
(Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin
C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids
has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They
wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where
they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households,
and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside
--Dr Subhash Mehta,
Related news from The Hindu: Dr. Raj B. Singh, Unvarnished Facts about Swine Flu
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention , USA gives the following tips:
You can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza by
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you
cough or sneeze. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Trying to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Staying home from work or school if you are sick.