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Friday, 15 January 2010

5 ways to avoid H1N1 swine flu

Fortunately, the following five steps can help you stave off swine flu.

1. Wash Your Hands

Hand-washing is the best way to stay flu-free. Even if your hands are exposed to swine flu, the germs won't have a chance to enter your system if you wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. It's especially important to wash your hands after being out in a public area.

Experts recommend scrubbing your hands with soap and lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds. If you can't get to a sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to eliminate harmful bacteria.

2. Get the Swine Flu Vaccine

One way to virtually guarantee you won't get swine flu is to get the swine flu vaccine. For healthy adults, only one dose will be required; children will require two doses of the vaccine, given three weeks apart. The vaccine is due out in October.

At-risk groups are encouraged to get the swine flu vaccine as early as possible. These groups include:

* Pregnant women
* Caregivers to children younger than 6 months
* Health care workers
* Healthy people ages 6 months to 24 years
* People ages 25-64 with underlying medical conditions

Remember: The seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against the swine flu. You'll need two different vaccines: one for the seasonal flu and another for the H1N1 strain.

3. Boost Your Immune System

Keeping your immune system firing on all cylinders is an important part of staying healthy. Even if you come in contact with swine flu germs, a vigorous immune system can defend against them and keep you flu-free.

Here are a few simple ways to give your immune system a shot in the arm:

* Get a good night's rest. Adequate rest relaxes your body and boosts your defenses.
* Eliminate stress. Stress wears down the immune system and makes you more susceptible to swine flu and other illnesses.
* Exercise. A brisk walk or bicycle ride can energize your immune system and fight off illness.
* Get plenty of vitamins and minerals. A well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your immune system.

4. Avoid Sick People

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you see someone coughing or sneezing, steer clear. Airborne swine flu particles can travel as far as ten feet, so it's possible to become infected by breathing in someone else's harmful germs. If someone in your family is sick, limit your contact with them. Spray surfaces they touch with disinfectant and help them get over their illness faster.

5. Keep Your Home and Workspace Germ-Free

At home, the kids bring germs home from school; at work, your co-workers bring germs from their families and each other. The end result is a whole host of germy surfaces. Eliminate these germs by disinfecting any surface that is exposed to you, your family or your co-workers.

At home, use disinfectant on cupboards, tables, doorknobs, television remotes, phones, sinks and other areas you touch with your hands. At work, spray your workspace with disinfectant and wash your hands after touching doorknobs, using a public computer and especially after shaking hands.

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