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Fighting flu is nothing new!

By Janet

I probably worry more about flu season than most people.

I suffer from asthma, so a bout of flu might be more serious for me than for people with no respiratory problems. Second, I work in a city hospital (non-medical staff), so I’m at higher risk of coming into contact with sick people.

As a result of those factors, I’m careful to take precautions. The upside is that as a result of this, I’m actually pretty well prepared for H1N1, because the prevention strategies are the same as for regular flu.

Whenever I ask my doctor what to do if I get flu, she tells me that it’s far better to avoid a case of flu than to try to treat one. The basics of flu prevention have been part of my personal routine for years: I get a flu shot, of course. I wash my hands frequently and thoroughly, use hand sanitizer, try to avoid touching my nose or eyes (easy places for viruses to enter the body!), and keep items I touch a lot (phone, keyboard, office doorknob) clean and disinfected. I’m careful what I touch, too – viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours!

I try to stay a few feet away from people who are obviously ill, and I’m quick to offer tissues to people who are coughing or sneezing. My doctor says that just coughing into a tissue or a sleeve can help contain germs.

At work, the hospital has offered H1N1 information sessions and flu prevention seminars for all employees. I attended, and what I heard there was comforting because so much of it was so familiar: precautions against pH1N1 are the same as for seasonal flu!

As you can imagine, friends and relatives have found my handwashing and germ avoidance amusing in the past, chalking it up to eccentricity or overzealous caution. But this year, things are different. More people are worried about flu season because they’ve read so much about the H1N1 pandemic. So lately, many people have asked me what I do to avoid getting sick. I’m only too happy to pass on my doctor’s advice.

It’s been years since I’ve had flu, and sometimes I even manage to get through the winter without so much as a bad cold. I’ve got my (sanitized!) fingers crossed for another healthy flu season.

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