Nine Ways to Avoid Getting H1N1

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Nine Ways to Avoid Getting H1N1

What exactly is H1N1 and why does it have just a everyone so concerned? Dr. Erika Schwartz, Medical Director of Cinergy Health, says, “The swine flu is really just a cold—a mild flu.” Despite the media alarms, families should not get scared, she advises. With these simple tips, you and your family can avoid getting sick. 

1. Wash Your Hands
One of the most important things you can do to avoid getting H1N1 and many other viruses is to wash your hands. “Use warm water and soap and try singing Happy Birthday while washing. Anything shorter than that is too short,” advises Dr. Schwartz. 

2. Sleep
Getting enough sleep—eight to ten hours each night for grade-school children through adults, can be one of the best things you can do to help boost your immune system. 

3. Vitamin C
Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C. Oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables are all good natural sources. Adults can safely take 10,000 to 15,000 mg daily, says Dr. Schwartz. 

4. Stay Home
Keep your kids (and yourself!) home from school or work if you’re feeling ill. “We have this cultural bias today—we reward kids that have perfect attendance, and I’m sure no one goes through perfect attendance without going to school sick,” says Dr. Schwartz. “Let’s reward families for social consciousness instead!” says Dr. Schwartz, who reminds us that it is much more important to not spread disease than it is to be at school or work every day. 

5. Change Your Clothes
When you get home from work or your children get home from school, take a moment to sit down, take off your shoes, and change into different clothes. If time permits, jump in the shower or wash your children’s faces and hands. “We wash up after playing outside or working in a factory or restaurant—why not do the same every day?” says Dr. Schwartz. Changing your clothes as soon as you get home helps not spread anything you’ve picked up during the day (think public transportation, office buildings, school rooms, the mall) and transfers those germs to the laundry pile instead of to your loved ones. 

6. Let the Air In
Get air circulating! If you can, open up your home or office’s windows. Let stale air out and fresh air in whenever you can. “Packaged air recirculates bugs,” adds Dr. Schwartz. 

7. Get Outside
“Take the kids out for a break!” says Dr. Schwartz. Whether at home or at school, getting outside isn’t just a great outlet for pent up energy, it offers kids (and adults) a chance to breath in fresh air and reboot. Even just a short walk out for a cup of coffee or a trip around the block exploring your neighborhood can work wonders. 

8. Keep Surfaces Clean
Bathrooms, kitchen counter tops, doors and knobs, computer keyboards, and more all retain germs. Wash down well-trafficked areas as often as you can. 

9. Breastfeed Your Baby
Infants who are not breastfeeding are more vulnerable to infection and hospitalization for severe respiratory illness than infants who are breastfeeding, states the Center for Disease Control (CDC). As a result, it’s a good idea for women who aren’t ill with influenza to initiate early and feed frequently. The CDC suggests that parents eliminate unnecessary formula supplementation so their child can receive as much maternal antibodies as possible. 

By Heather K. Scott for Parents.com 

Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation. Medical opinions and any other health-related information are for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.