I have been reading from daily news journals that people are rushing to pharmaceutical stores to buy N95 and surgical masks as if there is no tomorrow! Infact some of the shop keepers have started selling them in the ‘Black’ market too. At the same time few others are busy in promoting people to wear these masks to protect from H1N1 virus. In either ways people are simply getting panicked before knowing the myths and facts. This article is to address facts and myths about using face masks and respirators.
I am quoting a forwarded email which people claim to have originated from a doctor at AIIMS (All India Institute for Medical Sciences). Also, there have been strong arguments that this was initially sourced from Johns Hopkins University. Whatever the source may be, read through and know this flu better!
Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for general protection against H1N1 can’t be deplored enough. Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven’t yet). Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95.
Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.
Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it’s almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps – not fully highlighted in most official communications – can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. “Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.
5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.
If you are looking for more information on wearing masks, refer to detailed guidelines and recommendation provided by Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Stop panicking and start following the simple preventive methods to keep flu away. Nevertheless, I am not a medical practitioner or trained person to handle this H1N1, yet trying to alleviate the common myths among us 🙂
What are the plans for developing 2009 H1N1 vaccine?
Vaccines are the most powerful public health tool for control of influenza, and the U.S. government is working closely with manufacturers to take steps in the process to manufacture a 2009 H1N1 vaccine. Working together with scientists in the public and private sector, CDC has isolated the new H1N1 virus and modified the virus so that it can be used to make hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine. Vaccine manufacturers are now using these materials to begin vaccine production. Making vaccine is a multi-step process which takes several months to complete. Candidate vaccines will be tested in clinical trials over the few months.
Thanks a ton for this post…Kya timing hai ….upar wala ek darwaza band karta hai toh dusra kolta hai ..ok that was little too much ..
I ve been searching for masks in many pharmacy shops..they are out of stock and 2 weeks for the order to arrive…I am flying Monday.
Though I follow all except I am weak on the 6th one 😛
My pleasure 🙂 Panicking is the worst of all… have a safe journey and take care.
very informative Mohan!!!! nice read…somehow I never felt the need to buy a mask, though until last week was little scared, if I might catch a Virus..I have many of the collegues coming from US….
Thanks.. don’t be scary. Just follow the precautions carefully without fail and I am sure things will be fine. If possible, ask the travelers to take rest for 48 hours before they get started with work routine here. That will give them a breather as well as to get in touch with physicians incase there are any symptoms during those 48 hrs 🙂
This is my first time visit to your blog ! It was a good read! Actually the post on HINI was very informative !
Thanks for visiting and commenting here! You are most welcome to drop in frequently here 🙂
That was very informative. Thanks for sharing. I have seen people queing up for purchaching Influenzium 200 (Homeopathy medicine) for swine flu prevention. Any thoughts on that?
Sunitha, thanks for your comment. I don’t have much information on any preventive medicine available as on date. For any viral infection, vaccination is the best method. As far as my knowledge goes, there is no vaccination against this Swine flu as of now. Medical world may need some more time to come up with such a vaccine.