A(H1N1)v, DO and DON’Ts

It has been a while since I have written here. Mainly because there has been so little to write about, until now. The swine-flue or more scientifically called H1N1 is a virus. So why are people afraid of this virus and why is media so interested in it?

1) It contains a genetic composition unseen before and therefor is new to our immune system. Our immune system has not had a chance to practice defence against this type of virus.

2) It is therefor more likely that younger individuals (0-29) are in a higher risk zone than before. This age group is always counted in the “low risk” category during seasonal flues. When it comes to A(H1N1)v , they are not a “low risk” group.

3) Globalisation creates more opportunities for viruses to spread across the earth faster than 50 years ago or even 200 in which the last period of a large influenza pandemic was set.

birdflue11Unfortunately, what media forgets to mention is that ordinary flues i.e. viruses with recognized genetic composition kill about the same amount of individuals each year as the new flue does. What is novel about this virus is that it has caused deaths among a subgroup of seemingly healthy twenty/thirty year-olds and it spreads faster. However, as the Center for Disease Prevention in Sweden reports, no death has been without an underlying risk factor such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases or pregnancy.The main complications come with respiratory problems, which is not common in a seasonal flue but A(H1N1)v is still considered to be a “mild flue”.

So, the conclusion. Yes, it is a new flue, but it is still a flue. Watching the news reports I can’t help but to think of Resident Evil or I am Legend. Two movies about masshysteria of becomig infected. The A(H1N1)v will not turn you in to a zombie and it is not a death sentence.

In New England Journal of Medicine  7;th of May 2009 a symptom analysis of 642 confirmed cases in the USA these symptoms were estimated as signs of the A(H1N1)v : fever ( 94% of the patients), coughing (92%), soar throat (66%), diarrhea (25%), vomiting (25%). Only 36 patients (9%) were in need of medical assistance, 2 deaths. Does this sound familiar? Yes, a flue.

Creating a panic within one self, will not help. Media is made for selling magazines, selective information and fear keeps us interested.  So please DON’T

A) DON’ NOT Take any drugs such as penicillin or antiviral drugs in preventive measures. They only do more harm than good when used without prescription and medical surveillance .

B) DON NOT Run to the doctor for any symptoms, if you can walk and eat and feel that you can manage, stay at home and rest. The chances are that you will be sent home with instructions to rest and drink plenty of fluid, and while you were waiting for those instructions you will make others sick such as nurses, doctors and healthy individuals. THINK of a way of minimizing the spread, STAY at HOME!

C) DO NOT go to work sick. Particularly if you have a job that requires contact with people. You prolong the healing process and spread the flu.

ALL OF THIS APPLIES FOR ANY FLUE.

What you can do and SHOULD DO!

1) Wash you hands OFTEN. Little soap and water can go along way. Alcoholic cleansers are good, but are only affective in combination water and soap.

2) Caught and sneeze in your armpit, NOT on your hands.

3) If you are healthy, exercise, drink chamomile tea and eat more fruit and vegetables and do get some sun (vitamin D) on you. Your immune system is your best and only weapon, make sure it’s strong and ready. Remember, if it manages to beat it off (which I don’t doubt it will) it will have a good chance of creating antibodies and making the process of recontamination harder.

4) Sleep, sleep, sleep! Your immune system is dependent on sleep. Sleeping decreases stress, and activates hormones that enable the immune system to heal the body.

5) Don’t STRESS, for the reason mentioned in point 4

6) Make sure to have food assessable when you get sick. Ones you have the flu, you will not want to eat (like any flu) it lowers appetite. But you NEED to eat to give yourself strenght. So have a box or two in the freezer with a good healthy pre packaged meal and it will be a microwave trip away.

7) Read news from pages that are reliable such as the CDC in your country. Evening news and newspapers are businesses, not sources of information. Make sure to look at more than one source of information. 

8 ) Take the flu seriously, but don’t panic! Your body has been sick before. It will know what to do!

freeimages.co.uk medical imagesSo, hope you have a clearer picture. Just relax and make sure to take care of yourself. Pandemic means distribution of disease covering the earth, it is not synonymous with death rate. You have been sick before, so this will be no surprise and if you wash your hands and take care of yourself you might avoid it completely.

When it comes to vaccinations; I have not had a chance to read the clinical trials from the A(H1N1)v vaccine so I do not have any information to give. My rule of thumb is to read scientific articles on sites such as web of science, pubmed etc (look at more than one study) and evaluate pros and cons (side effects vs protective factors) and then decide, if the side effects are low and protective effect higher than 30% it is a good alternative.

Take care and don’t fear. The only time we truly will have a problem is if we start giving in to irrational fear that will lead to more troubles than the flue can ever give us. Fear keeps us alive, Panic sends us to the death!

SOURCES AND HELPFUL LINKS

Central for Disease Control and Prevention

Wold Health Organisation

PubMed

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