I can’t turn my television onto any channel these days without hearing about the H1N1 virus pandemic (the so-called “swine flu”). A lot of people I know are all twitterpated about this and I gotta tell you, it’s getting on my nerves.
First, let’s define what a pandemic is. All that means is that people are getting sick from this particular strain over a wide geographic area, and it’s affecting more of the population than normal. It doesn’t mean that this strain is worse than the seasonal flu. As a matter of fact, it’s actually milder. The mortality rate is considerably lower than it is with the seasonal flu. What has the medical community all up in arms is that this strain is a new one from the regular seasonal flu and their usual vaccines don’t work against it. (Although they’re working on a vaccine against this particular strain, it won’t be available until the flu season is in full swing.)
The other problem is that it’s coming smack dab in the middle of allergy season. Most people don’t know they have the flu rather than seasonal allergies until they have a fever. By then you’re already contagious. If you’ve never had seasonal allergies and you start sniffling, coughing and feeling a little achy, chances are you’ve contracted some form of the flu.
So, what should you do? To protect yourself, you should do the same things you should always do to protect yourself from the flu – H1N1 or not. Keep your immune system healthy, wash your hands frequently, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or a tissue rather than your hands, don’t touch your hands to your face, and for goodness’ sake, stay home from work or school if you’re sick.
One of the mistakes a lot of people make is using antibacterial cleaners all over their home, thinking it’s going to protect them from the flu. Folks, antibacterials only work on bacteria and the flu is a virus. You need to use antivirals. Some good antiviral herbs are:
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Myrrh Commiphora molmol
Juniper Juniperus communis
German Chamomile Matricaria recutita
Peppermint Mentha x piperita
You can add these to your cleaning solutions, diffuse the essential oils throughout your home and/or office with an oil diffuser or oil warmer, or drink teas.
If you do start feeling like you’ve got the flu, the normal treatment for otherwise healthy people is to stay in bed until your fever breaks. (A low-grade fever is a good thing. It means your body is fighting the infection.) You can treat the symptoms like runny nose, coughs, fever, etc., as you normally would for a cold or the flu. You should start feeling better in a few days.
If you are a member of the at-risk population (compromised immune system, young, elderly, chronic respiratory illness, etc.) or your symptoms worsen, then seeing your doctor for one of the anti-viral medications like Tamiflu or Relenza is a good thing to do.
I think the most important advice is not to panic. If you practice the preventive measures, chances are you’re not going to get it or if you do, it’ll be a very mild case.
Slàinte maith, h-uile latha, na chi ‘snach fhaic!
(Good health, every day, whether I see you or not!)