One of the deadliest viruses – Swine Flu also called by the formula H1N1 has been creating staggering headlines off late. Due to the wide outburst of the virus killing many in 2009, the WHO categorized Swine Flu as pandemic disease.
In case if you are wondering why it’s called Swine Flu, it’s because in the past, the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs. However, that changed several years ago, when a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn’t been near pigs.
How Can You Possibly Get H1N1?
What makes Swine flu more dangerous is that it is highly contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. Generally, when infected people cough or sneeze, they spray tiny drops of the virus into the air. If you come in contact with these drops or touch a surface that an infected person has recently touched, you can catch H1N1 swine flu.
Signs and Symptoms of Swine Flu
The symptoms of the H1N1 virus is quite hard to figure out because it is very similar to that of the seasonal flu. Thus, you have to be extra alert while doing the prescribed tests if you doubt that it is a Swine Flu. However, the symptoms include:
– sore throat
– stuffy or runny nose
– body aches
Swine Flu (H1N1): Preventive Measures
The only two points of entry that H1N1 virus use is via the nostrils and mouth/throat. Thus, it makes it more difficult to contain it and contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is. However, you can use a face mask as well.
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 (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):
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 you want to eat, bathe or slap).
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 population.
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 (tea, coffee, etc) 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.
Note: Like seasonal flu, swine flu can lead to more serious complications, including pneumonia and respiratory failure. And it can make conditions like diabetes or asthma worse. If you have symptoms like shortness of breath, severe vomiting, abdominal pain, or dizziness, you should immediately visit your doctor.