We're pretty familiar with how to prevent catching a regular cold or the flu, but the swine flu seems like a whole new ball of wax (or phlegm, in this case). Since swine flu seems to be spreading quickly, you want to do whatever you can to keep from catching the H1N1 virus. Here are some precautions you can take.
- Wash your hands often with soap and hot water (don't just rinse with water). Lather up for at least 20 seconds, or long enough to sing your ABC's.
- Avoid touching common things that others come in contact with such as doorknobs, railings, handles on the subway, elevator buttons, magazines in the doctor's office, public phones, pens at the bank, etc. If you can't help it, refrain from touching your nose, mouth, or eyes until you can get to a bathroom to wash your hands.
- When you're at the gym, disinfect all equipment before you use it in case the person before you forgot. Bring your own towel, use your own yoga mat, and wash your hands before leaving the gym.
To see how else you can protect yourself,
- Keep hand sanitizers in your purse, car, and at work so you can kill germs when you can't get to a sink.
- If swine flu cases have turned up in your area, consider avoiding public places. Those infected with swine flu can be contagious before showing symptoms.
- If you're really paranoid, wearing a high quality respiratory mask can offer some protection.
- Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. All these things will strengthen your immune system.
- Children, the elderly, pregnant women, those who work with children, and those who work in the medical field are at a higher risk for catching swine flu. So if you're in this group, think about getting vaccinated against the swine flu.
- If you start feeling flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, stuffy nose, chills, or body aches, don't go to work. Stay at home and get better. If your symptoms worsen, call your doctor. If you test positive for swine flu, they can prescribe Tamiflu.