How to Avoid H1N1

Four Methods:Preventing H1N1Following Good Hygiene PracticesRecognizing SymptomsNursing Early Symptoms

In 2009–2010, the H1N1 flu virus, also known as the swine flu, was a worldwide pandemic. Now, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) consider this a regular human flu virus that circulates seasonally, so prevention and early treatment are similar to what you would do for the regular flu.[1] You can still contract the H1N1 virus and it is still unpleasant to do so. Recognize the symptoms and prevent yourself from getting this nasty flu. As with all illnesses, the young, the old, and the infirm are more likely to develop the H1N1 virus.

Method 1
Preventing H1N1

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    Get vaccinated against H1N1. You are most likely to contract H1N1 during flu season. The CDC warns that every flu season is different and thus vaccinations are tailored for the season. Flu season is characterized between October-May (in the US). During that time, you should receive a flu vaccine, especially if you are 65 or older.
    • As of 2013, the H1N1 vaccine has been combined with the "Influenza A" vaccine. The influenza A category is made up of the most common strains of the flu.[2]
    • H1N1 vaccines usually stay in your system for about sic months, so vaccinate regularly.[3]
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    Avoid H1N1 patients. Viruses spread through microorganisms that you can come in contact through your mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth). You are susceptible to picking up the H1N1 virus from already infected people.
    • Avoid sick people in public places like at work or on public transit. You can wear a face mask to help protect yourself and to keep yourself clean by frequent hand washing.
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    Boost your immune system. Your immune system is your body’s defense mechanism. It fights off viral and antigen invaders and keeps you healthy. Therefore, it is important to keep your immune system happy and healthy to fight off viral infections such as H1N1. To boost your immune system, follow these tips.[4]
    • Exercise for at least 30–60 minutes per day.
    • Limit stress by taking yoga or by meditating.
    • Eat a well-balanced diet.[5] This will make sure you are getting the essential nutrients to stay healthy.
    • Get adequate sleep. Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can not only affect your immune system but also predispose you to contracting H1N1.[6]
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    Disinfect surfaces. There are a number of commercial disinfectant products. You can use them to wipe down commonly touched surfaces such as keyboards, doorknobs, counter-tops, phones, writing utensils, etc. Look for disinfects that contain:
    • Alcohol — Look for Ethyl alcohol at high concentrates (70-80%) and Isopropyl alcohol (20% concentration).[7]
    • Chlorine and chlorine compounds — Search for chlorine compounds such as household bleach. For example, Chlorox wipes are available in individual wipes.
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    Stay informed about H1N1. Health organizations such as the CDC and WHO have information on their websites about H1N1 and seasonal flu strains. They often have information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones. They provide contact information, vaccine information, and pandemic and crisis support.[8]

Method 2
Following Good Hygiene Practices

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    Wash your hands. This simple activity is the best way to reduce the spread of H1N1 and germs in general. It is quick, simple, and very effective! Be sure to use soap and water. Follow this easy routine: wet, lather, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse, and dry. Wash your hands before and after activities that include the following:[9]
    • Before, during, and after preparing food.
    • Before eating.
    • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
    • Before and after treating wounds/cuts.
    • After using the restroom.
    • After changing or cleaning children.
    • After blowing your nose or sneezing.
    • After touching your face.
    • After handling pets.
    • After touching garbage.
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    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Touching your face is an easy way to spread H1N1. Your eyes, nose, and mouth have mucus membranes and are susceptible to germs.[10]
    • If you do have to touch your face, be sure to wash your hands before and after doing so.
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    Avoid sharing utensils or drinks. Avoid sharing food and drinks with other people. It is easy to pass microorganisms through saliva. Do not share your glass with someone, and avoid sharing your plate of food.[11]

Method 3
Recognizing Symptoms

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    Note the rapid onset of symptoms. Onset symptoms occur within two to three hours with H1N1 virus. This is generally faster than other flu strains or viruses.[12]
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    Watch for fever. You have a fever if your body temperature rises above its normal range of 98.6°F (37°C).[13] It is important to note that not all people who get H1N1 get fevers. However, there are a number of symptoms of having a fever. Some of which may include the following:
    • Sweating.
    • Shivering.
    • Headache.
    • Muscle aches.
    • Loss of appetite.
    • Dehydration.
    • General weakness.
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    Listen for a cough. A cough happens when something is irritating your throat or airway. Be wary if your cough persists or you cough up discolored or bloody mucus.[14]
    • If you have H1N1, your cough will be dry or non-productive. This means you should not be coughing up mucus or blood.[15]
    • If you do cough or sneeze, it is important that you limit the spread of germs. Cough (or sneeze) into the inside of your elbow to limit the spread of germs.
    • You may experience shortness of breath due to your cough.
    • Note that you will not experience a sore throat. While a sore throat is the most common symptom of a viral infection, patients with H1N1 generally do not report a sore throat.[16][17]
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    Recognize aches and pains. Pain or stiffness may be a symptom of H1N1 and is the most common symptom of H1N1. These pains may also be a sign of a fever. You might feel fatigue or aches in both your head and body.
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    Feel for stomach distress. While common symptoms of illness on their own, nausea and diarrhea can be a sign of the flu. This is known as viral gastroenteritis and is your body’s way of trying to rid itself of irritants. If you have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, you may have the flu.[18]

Method 4
Nursing Early Symptoms

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    Treat your fever. To treat a fever, put a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead. Wash your body with cool water; this will help lower your body temperature and make you feel better. You can also take 650 mg of acetaminophen every six to eight hours (not to exceed 3000 mg in 24 hours) or 400–600 mg of ibuprofen (not to exceed 3200 mg in 24 hours).[19]
    • If your child is under three years old and has a fever, you should take her to the doctor.
    • If your kidneys or liver are compromised, speak with your doctor before taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
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    Stay home from work or school. Since H1N1 is spread through microorganisms, you should avoid contact with other people for at least twenty-four hours after you start to notice symptoms.[20] Cancel plans and stay home while you recover. Try and stay as isolated as possible in your home to avoid getting other members of your household ill.
    • If you do have to go out in public while you are sick, wear a face-mask or cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow to avoid spreading germs.
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    Rest. Your body is trying to fight off this illness. Strenuous activity can make you feel worse and prohibit healing. Rest as much as possible if you think you are getting the flu or even already show symptoms.
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    Recognize worsening symptoms. Generally, you do not want to go to the emergency room if you have H1N1. Doctors are, often, unable to help H1N1 infections and you run the risk of infecting other people in the waiting room. However, if you or your child has any of the following symptoms, go to the doctor or the ER. [21]
    • Trouble breathing/fast breathing.
    • Blue skin color.
    • Not waking up or interacting.
    • Fever with rash.
    • Pain or pressure in chest/abdomen.
    • Sudden dizziness.
    • Confusion.
    • Severe or persistent vomiting.


  • It isn’t necessary to see your doctor if you have normal flu symptoms as there is little treatment against viral infections; however, if you have other symptoms or chronic diseases (asthma, emphysema, diabetes, heart conditions, etc), or if you are pregnant, you should seek a doctor’s consultation.


  • Despite the name, it is impossible to catch the H1N1 swine flu from eating pork. H1N1 is considered part of normal circulating flu.

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Categories: Colds and Viruses