Today’s print media highlighted the possible shortage of swine flu vaccine (when it eventually becomes available). The Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan was even reported to have accused Western nations of hoarding the vaccine and appealed to the big pharmas to divert just 10% of the supplies to developing countries so as not to deprive the less fortunate.
There is also a sense of panic developing as the number of deaths throughout the world rise to 700 (see here). Currently, the only form of possible cure, apart from the vaccine, is by taking Tamiflu or Relenza capsules by mouth. But they don’t come cheap at USD 60 per course. Besides, supplies are scarce and they need to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of the symptoms to be effective.
So where does that leave most of us, especially those who don’t like popping pills?
A comforting fact is that 95% of those who contracted swine-flu recover from it without any complications – this is a reassuring fact that is not emphasized by media hype. Apart from this consolation, an important principle is that the virus attacks those with diminished immunity. That explains why many of those that succumbed are either elderly, the very young, pregnant women, sufferers of chronic disease or thse taking steroids.
How can one increase one’s immunity?
- Leading a healthy lifestyle. Hate to repeat it, but regular exercise, no smoking, enough sleep and reducing stress are indispensable pillars.
- Hygienic measures. Perhaps the most important preventive measure is washing the hands. You need to cough and sneeze safely too, because the tiny droplets expelled can contain the virus.
- Hydration. Drinking water often and adequately (about 2 litres daily) is an important measure too.
- Supplements to enhance the immune system. Zinc, selenium and ginseng have these properties.
- Antioxidants. No need to buy expensive over-the-counter stuff. Taking them naturally is even better – berries,green tea, dark chocolate, coffee and red wine all have antioxidants.
- Staying away from crowded places. This comes in last in my book as many of us just can’t avoid this, especially public commuters!
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