Protecting Yourself from Flu Viruses

With the first student case of H1N1 confirmed on campus last week, professor of nursing Dr. Chris Jackson offers advice on how to stay healthy.

The H1N1 case was originally diagnosed as Influenza A, but, after being sent for further research, tested positive for the H1N1 virus. The student overcame the virus before the tests were completed and no current cases of the virus have been detected.


So far, H1N1 has not been a particularly deadly virus, and most who have had it have recovered fully. In fact, the rates of hospitalizations and death have been lower than those of typical seasonal flu viruses.  There is no guarantee that the vaccine will prevent illness.

Historically, seasonal flu vaccines are hit or miss at best, because manufacturers must guess what strains of viruses will be predominant each season.

It is apparent that for most types of illness, those who are not “susceptible hosts” will not become ill, even if they are exposed to the virus or bacteria. Have you ever wondered why a group of people can be exposed to an illness, but only some will become ill? We can take actions to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels. Even those with compromised (weakened) immunity can take actions that will boost their innate healing abilities.

A non-inflammatory diet that is rich in fiber and nutrients from vegetables and fruits, adequate high-quality protein, plenty of quality filtered water (tap water run through a Brita or Pur filter), and Omega-3 fish oils is a good foundation. Getting enough Vitamin C and Vitamin D is also a good idea. Adequate sleep and daily walking and movement of your body are required for optimal immune function.

Hand hygiene is essential. Washing hands properly and frequently throughout the day will help. Do not use antibacterial soaps – simply use regular soap and a lot of friction.

Many viruses are spread through the air via droplets. Coughing, sneezing, or laughing sends these droplets spewing out into the air.  We then inhale them and they land on our nasopharynx–the very back of our nose and throat. Simply rinsing daily with saline (salt water) can reduce the number of microorganisms that may have accumulated. Buy nasal saline that has no preservatives or chemical additives. Inhale it deeply through each nostril 2 or 3 times throughout the day and allow it to wash down the back of your throat.

Stay away from symptomatic people and keep away if you are symptomatic. Practice these habits and you will enhance your ability to avoid the flu and other illnesses. You may also be a healthier person throughout your entire life as a result of changing a few personal habits now.


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