The number of deaths attributed to swine flu may be climbing. But anxiety about it is climbing even faster. Understandably. At any moment, you can find someone, somewhere -- the TV, the radio, the cube next to you, the person in front of you at the bathroom line at the ballpark -- talking about it.
No one knows how this will go, and where there’s uncertainty, there’s anxiety. But you can do more than be worried. Here’s what we YOU Docs are doing -- and what you should, too:
1. Accept the control you have (and don’t). You cannot control who gets this flu, how severe it is, and where it will spread. Acceptance lowers stress, and that’s key: Stress weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to any bug . . . including the flu.
2. Wash your hands! Wash your hands if you shake someone else’s. Wash your hands before and after touching anything. Wash your hands before and after eating. Soap up and really wash!
3. Avoid coughers. If you work in a hospital or near coughing people, talk to your doctor about the prescription antiflu drugs Relenza and Tamiflu.
4. Be smart about crowds and planes. Avoid ’em if you can. And avoid wherever it is that Sanjay Gupta is reporting from -- it is probably an area with high flu rates.
5. Keep your immunity up. Get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Avoid more than one drink of alcohol a day. Take a multivitamin with 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 every day. Have chicken soup every day, unless you can’t have too much salt.
6. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. And use it! Your hands aren’t the only things that pick up germs. Ladies, do you know where the bottom of your handbag has been? Keep your environment clean, too.
7. Wash your hands. Did we say that already? That’s because you need to do it. Now, and when flu season comes back next year, too.