Friday, 23 October 2009

Beating the Bugs

More hints and tips for avoiding Swine Flu and other ‘nasties’

I wrote about my attempts to avoid infection back in January (‘Getting Bugged by Bugs’) but the issue is very much back on my agenda again for three main reasons:

1. I have just taken six weeks to get over a very minor cold. Although I thankfully managed to stem off any serious lupus symptoms with changes to my medication the cold definitely caused my immune system to spark, and therefore my lupus to stir. This is obviously a reminder of the potential that a more serious infection could have on a loopy’s wellbeing.

2. I’m pregnant

3. Next week I am off on a much anticipated girly trip to Ireland for a few days to visit a close friend who has just had her first baby, but I am rather nervous about the potential to catch something on the plane.

Maybe all this Swine flu fever is making me paranoid but not without reason. When I’ve been out and seen the number of people carelessly sneezing, coughing and ‘spraying’ without even attempting to keep their germs to themselves, instead of feeling compassion for their poor health as really I should, I feel like socking them one! The grossest thing happened yesterday when I was in the hospital getting my blood tests done. I saw a lady leave a toilet cubicle without washing her hands! It nearly caused me to wretch. I don’t care what she was doing in there: she needed to wash her hands! I am definitely behind the NHS’s ‘Catch it, Kill it, Bin it’ campaign:

There are the obvious things and some other helpful hints I’ve been given on good authority:

Hand hygiene
bviously – obsessively – I say no more.

Swine flu vaccination
The (reliable) word of authority is that loopies who are immune-suppressed should get the Swine Flu vaccination. The benefits outweigh the risks.For full details see:

And it’s not just for you. If you are immune-suppressed your ‘household contacts’ are also eligible to be vaccinated as a priority in Category 3 of the NHS Swine Flu Vaccination programme. Needless to say, as soon as it arrives in the forthcoming weeks Tony’s straight down there!

For UK loopies, full details of the NHS Swine Flu Vaccination Program and the Risk Categories identified for priority are clearly outlined here:,776,884,851,780,684,710,705,765,674,677,767,684,762,718,674,708,683,706,718,674&ClientID=-1

Being immune-suppressed and pregnant I fall into more than one category.

Avoid touching your face
The flu virus has to get into the body somehow to grow and the most effective way is through the nose or mouth. Any infection carried on your hands is automatically transported to your eyes, nose or mouth every time you touch your face.

After having been given this advice a couple of days ago I've discovered that that this one is much easier said than done. Try it for yourself. I’m hoping it's a case of 'practice makes perfect'.

Vicks First Defence Nasal Spray
I advocated this (albeit with a degree of scepticism at the time) in my last post on beating infections and I do again with a bit more confidence as I’ve been told that it is far more effective than face masks, which can in fact make matters worse. (Yes, I'd got to the point where I was seriously considering wearing a face mask on the plane - I'm sure my travel companion Lorna will be relieved to hear I'm opting for First Defence instead!). The blurb says it works by "trapping the cold germs, making them harmless and helping your body to get rid of them naturally". Apparently the key is to use it properly. The way to do it is to be like Bill Clinton - don’t inhale! Allow it to trickle either down the back of the throat or back out your nose (lovely!) rather than inhaling it into the lungs where it has no affect. The key is it should coat your nasal passage.

It’s at least worth a try, especially on my plane journey.

Hot drinks
Drinking six to eight cups of fluids a day flushes mucus down into your stomach, where digestive juices destroy the toxins. Keeping the bodily fluids moving quickly out of the body gives a virus less chance to find a cosy place to grow and spread. Acidic drinks, like citrus juices and tea with lemon, also help to keep viruses at bay.

Another very good reason for putting the kettle on right now!