Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How to Beat the H1N1

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What do you get when you combine a newly evolved virus, a shortage of vaccines, and a frenzy of non-stop media coverage? The perfect storm of panic and misinformation that's converged over this year's pandemic-du-jour, the H1N1 flu virus.

And I've got to say, we've run the gamut of pretty much every possible angle on this one. First it was the deadliest virus on earth. Then it turned out it wasn't actually bad at all. Then there was the whole "some people die from it, but we don't know why" slant. And now it turns out there's a fantastic vaccine for it... but we don't have enough to actually give it to anyone but hockey players.

I'll admit, it's been confusing. But through it all, a cohesive picture is beginning to emerge. So here's what we actually know: H1N1 related symptoms are generally mild. As with any flu, some people will die from it, but the vast majority will not (as in 99.9955%). And aside from the vaccine, the best way to beat it is to wash your hands frequently.

But for the people who like to take a more active approach, here's some hot-off-the-press tips that are showing promise.

Number 1: Antioxidants! In additional to the innumerable other benefits of eating antioxidant rich foods (fruit, red wine), it looks like they might also prevent the flu from damaging your lungs.

Number 2: The old flu vaccines. People who've repeatedly gotten the seasonal flu shot over the years are showing some immunity to this one, probably due to the fact that H1N1 is a conglomeration of many different flu strains, some of which have been around for a while.

And finally: coughing in to the crook of your arm. Because failure to do this is proving hazardous to your health in more ways than one.

- Brit Trogen

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