What You Should Know About the H1N1 Virus
Public health experts are estimating that the H1N1 virus, once known as the swine flu,
will infect 20 to 40 percent of the population this season. Since the first incidence in spring 2009, health professionals have watched H1N1 travel around the globe and are
closely monitoring its development. According to Jamey Wallace, ND, clinic medical director at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, “As of today, the H1N1 virus has not
mutated into a virulent – that is, a more severe – form.”
Dr. Wallace points out that people sometimes mistakenly view the seasonal flu as a passing nuisance, like a cough or a runny nose, even though seasonal flu kills more than 36,000 people each year in the U.S. He explains that regardless of age or health status, all people should take the same measures to protect themselves and their families against both kinds of flu. “In medical facilities, universal precautions are practiced, meaning that the same health precautions are applied to every patient, no matter their condition,” he notes. “In the same way, the best thing for the public is for everybody to adopt flu-prevention precautions.”
The precautions are simple. According to Dr. Wallace, “The main strategies you can use to avoid getting sick and spreading illness are to wash your hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you have symptoms.” He continues, “Just as importantly, you can be a model to your family and your community by adhering to the best practices for flu prevention.”
Dr. Wallace also states that keeping yourself in optimum health before and during the flu season will decrease your chances of getting sick. Sufficient sleep, stress
management, healthy diet, and immune-supporting supplements and herbs are all tools that help our bodies to prevent infection. An H1N1 vaccine became available this
fall and some health agencies are recommending vaccination for high-risk groups. If you believe you may be at higher risk for complications stemming from H1N1 infection,
consult your health care provider to decide on the best form of prevention for you.
If you become infected with either the seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus, Dr. Wallace counsels that the best course of action is to stay home. He urges the public to consider the stress that will be placed on health care facilities this season. “In an effort not to overburden health care facilities, people with the flu are encouraged to stay home, get rest and focus on hydration.”
If flu symptoms become severe, you should contact your health provider by phone to discuss your condition before making an appointment. Health care providers – including those at Bastyr Center – have systems in place to help you determine whether
office or hospital visits are necessary.
Natural remedies can be effective at battling flu symptoms and speeding recovery, but Dr. Wallace is wary to recommend any single cure-all. “Once a patient sees a health care provider and their symptoms are evaluated, then a treatment plan can be created.”
Learn more about H1N1 and public health. To learn more about natural immune support and flu remedies, visit our Cold and Flu pages or call 206.834.4100 to make an appointment with a Bastyr Center provider.
Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2009 edition of Healthy & Wise, the Bastyr Center newsletter.