Swine Flu – What, Me Worry?

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swine fluRural Mom is honored to have guest speaker, Dr. Hana R. Solomon, M.D., author of Clearing the Air One Nose at a Time, speak to readers, answering all our questions about the H1N1 Virus:

The headlines continue to appear: “TWO MORE DIE OF SWINE FLU IN THE MIDEAST”, and “NEW POWERS TO QUARANTINE MAY BE TESTED IN FLU OUTBREAK.”

How much of this media hype is for the sake of dramatic headlines and how much is educating us about a serious risk to our health?

There is no doubt that the swine flu is real. Now known as H1N1, the swine flu is a new influenza virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

With school in session and cooler weather we should expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of influenza cases.

So who is most at risk for complications? Contrary to the usual seasonal flu age profile, it appears that young people and pregnant women are the most likely to have complications from the swine flu.

Evidence of this bug’s unusual age profile can be found in the fact that school and camp-based outbreaks have been common while nursing home outbreaks have not been seen.

Those over 50 rarely experience severe illness from the H1N1 virus. Early in this outbreak, tests by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that those over 50 may have pre-existing antibodies that protect them against swine flu, with those over the age of 60 showing the highest levels of antibodies.

The H1N1 age profile presents treatment challenges because we must be especially careful when giving children and pregnant women medications.

How is the H1N1 virus spread?

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Studies have shown that the influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

What can I do?

Prevention is always better than treatment, so let’s start with the CDC recommendations: :

– Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

– Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

– Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

– Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

– Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

– Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

But the CDC leaves out one of the most effective, economical, and important ways to protect you and your family: Washing your nose!

If you are washing your hands, the bathroom counters, your phone and your desk, doesn’t it make sense to wash your body’s personal air filter too?

Wash Your Body’s Personal Air Filter!

We know:

· The nose functions as our external filter.
· The H1N1 virus invades the nasal membrane lining.
· The body reacts to the virus invasion within just a few days.
· Nasal washing is safe, even for young children and pregnant women.
· Nasal irrigation can wash away viral particles before they have the opportunity to invade the body’s mucosa (the lining inside the nose).
· Saline mixes vary in strength and effectiveness. Hypertonic saline works best for killing virus cell walls by osmosis (drying up the viral body).

Patients of mine who wash their nose as part of their daily hygiene stay well for long periods of time…..often going years without getting ill. This is true even for those who experienced 3-6 infections per year before adopting this hygiene habit. Scientific evidence supports these findings.

Can Medications Prevent the Swine Flu?

Researchers are working on developing a vaccine for the H1N1 virus, and they hope to have at least some of it ready before cold weather lifestyles increase our risks of contagion. The vaccine will not be 100% effective, but it will help prevent severe cases and complications.

“FluMist” is a nasal spray (non-injectable) vaccine that is currently in development. The company is working to produce about five times as much swine flu vaccine as it had originally expected to need. This volume of vaccine will not be ready until March, 2010, which will be a bit late for this coming winter flu season. We do not yet know how effective this vaccine will be. In addition, caution must be exercised in its use; nasal spray vaccines contain live viruses, limiting their safety profile especially for children and those with compromised immune systems.

Are There Treatments That Can Help Me If I Get The Swine Flu?

There are antiviral medications that may help if taken within two days of the onset of flu. This assumes, of course, that you know you have the flu in time to get a prescription and start taking the medication!

The most commonly used anti-viral flu medication is called “TamiFlu and can significantly shorten the severity and duration of the illness. However, this medicine can also have significant side effects, especially in children.
As reported in a London newspaper on August 1st, “More than half of children taking the swine flu drug Tamiflu experience side effects such as nausea and nightmares, research by Britain’s Health Protection Agency suggests.

Studies of children attending three schools in London and one in the South West showed that about 50 per cent had one or more side effects.

A total of 103 children took part in the London study, of whom 85 were given the drug as a precaution after a classmate was diagnosed with H1N1 flu. Of those, 45 experienced one or more side effects such as nausea, stomach pain or cramps and problems sleeping. One in five had a ‘neuropsychiatric side effect’, such as inability to think clearly, nightmares and ‘behaving strangely’, the study, published in the Eurosurveillance journal of infectious diseases, said.”

There are over-the-counter medications to treat symptoms. These are known to cause an array of possible side-effects (insomnia, sleepiness, hypertension, etc) but they do not aid in the resolution of the viral infection.

Washing the nose can help with flu symptoms without causing uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. It is safe and effective for old and young alike; children as young as two years old can benefit if using an appropriate nasal wash system.

Washing the body’s air filter makes sense in terms of prevention, reduction of viral spread, reducing the duration of symptoms, reducing the need for over-the-counter medications, and decreasing secondary infections. All this at minimal cost and no risks!

Swine Flu Bottom Line

The swine flu, otherwise known as H1N1, is a real threat to our public health. That is no longer in doubt. Children, young adults, and pregnant women are most at risk for complications.

So what is my expert and common sense advice during this epidemic? I recommend that you use time-tested techniques to prevent and treat respiratory infections: Follow the CDC’s guidelines for prevention, and consider the risks and benefits of vaccines and medications.

Then, go one step further: Do what you can to prevent and/or treat the flu by caring for your body’s personal filter – WASH YOUR NOSE! If you start now, it could become part of your daily hygiene, and you’ll have the continual benefits of a clean filter even when the H1N1 epidemic is over.

For further information about nose wash systems, and techniques to make nose washing easy and most effective, visit www.nasopure.com . Your nose will thank you for it.

Be Well, Dr Hana
Hana R. Solomon, M.D.

For more information, visit http://www.nasopure.com


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Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an author and sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky. When she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s writing about country living and artisan culture.
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