Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ask Dr. Denton: Swine Flu Fear is Useless: Precaution, Faith, Common Sense Needed

This article is presented by Dr. Denton D. Weiss, M.D. on Catholic-Online. It concerns the current "swine-flu" fear. Dr. Denton shares some good common sense.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Catholic Online) – The rush is on to give us information… or, in some cases, is it really to sell fear? As I watched the National News Organizations give the moment by moment occurrences of the “upcoming Pandemic” throughout the day I felt moved to speak the truth about the current flu and present the facts for our readers. Swine flu is a viral infection that can kill but rarely does if simple precautions are taken and supportive care is provided. The highest risk patients are those who are compromised in some fashion. (i.e. a patient on chemotherapy, a patient who is nutritionally depleted, an individual who has liver or renal failure.) Flu patients who are extremely young or elderly may need IV fluids if severe diarrhea develops.

Patients with asthma or other pulmonary issues may need oxygen or short term bronchodilator medications for breathing difficulties. But, the majorities of patients, at least in this country, need to stay home, eat nutritional meals, drink water and electrolyte fluids such as Gatorade or Pediolyte, and not go out to the mall or to work while you have symptoms. Swine Flu can be spread via hand to hand contact, drinking out of an infected cup, or coughing in someone’s face. How do you prevent this? Simply wash your hands often. Don’t use a communal towel. If you have a high fever, body aches or flu symptoms don’t go to work or to class. The concepts are simple; we need to follow good hygiene.

Richard Besser, Director of the CDC, has called this a Public Health Emergency. By doing so he could more efficiently - and with less red tape - distribute appropriate medications and support resources to the States where Swine flu has been reported. This doesn’t mean we have an epidemic that’s killing millions. It means use common sense, do not give in to fear and this will be appropriately managed both in Mexico and across the World. For those who have lost their lives in Mexico, we need to pray for them and for their families. The losses unfortunately occurred before awareness was properly noted and proper precautions taken. Currently, the 40 + cases in the US and throughout the World have not been as lethal.

When “bird flu” hit the Asian continent and subsequently the World. It was managed by the demand for good hygiene or your job was lost. The flu came and went because people worked together in clean and supportive environments. Few patients were lost once the awareness was achieved and health care providers and the public used common sense.

I have a close friend who is a man of world travels. He lives by the statement “help me help you stay healthy”. His personnel are always advised on simple techniques when traveling. The recommendations may seem a bit obsessive/compulsive to some but I think they make good sense and I offer them to our reader. They are as follows:

The routine is pretty simple: One very simple rule, never touch your face or food unless you wash your hands first. Wash your hands often.

When I get on the plane, I wipe down everything I am going to touch.Air vent, seat belt, arm rest.

Clorox wipes work best in my opinion. I use germ-X wipes before I eat. I am often asked by the Flightt Attendants for one or two and I gladly share!

I never use the seat pocket or read a magazine I did not bring on the aircraft.

If possible, I watch the attendant and how he/she handles the glass I'm going to drink from.

When I land, next stop is the rental Car. I wipe down everything I'm going to touch.Steering wheel, shifter, radio button, door handles(inner and outer), etc.. Clorox wipes again.

Now the hotel:

Again everything you are going to touch. Door handles, remotes, lamp switched, etc..... At a hotel where they service your room daily, do it daily. It takes 30 seconds!

At work, I buy a big hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes and encourage people to use them. Lots of times they laugh at first but then see the light.

Thanks Mike, I couldn’t agree more with your practical thoughts. Now, I offer our readers some more. Those wipes are great for the office and classroom. Sleep 6 – 8 hours a night. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables (Remember the food we eat is our body’s medicine - frozen fruits and vegetables are great). Green vegetables have high amounts of B Vitamins and are great for the immune system. Vitamin C is also an excellent immune booster so keep that citrus in the frig and in your diet. Don’t forget the green tea and finally remember Faith not fear should direct your life…… your health! Take care of the Temple of your body…we’ve all been given just one.

Be aware, but be at Peace. Remember, we have been given the treasure called Faith! To end with the words of the Lord: "fear is useless: what is needed is trust" (Mark 5:36 New American Bible). Swine Flu Fear is Useless: Precaution, Faith and Common Sense are needed.

Dr Denton D. Weiss, M.D. is board certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He and his wife Michelle strive for an integrated approach to life which recognizes the unity of the body, mind and soul. They are contributing writers for Catholic Online.

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