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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to manage Your Own Health

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Why will I have to manage my own health?
During a pandemic, it is likely that health care services will be overburdened. Your usual medical provider may be extremely overwhelmed with serious cases.
If your symptoms are mild, you should avoid medial facilities.
Visiting such facilities may further expose you to infectious diseases,
and may provide an opportunity for you to pass your illness to other people.

How will I know that I have influenza?
- During phase 6, the pandemic flu will be circulating widely across the globe.
If you develop the following symptoms it is likely that you have influenza.

- A sudden onset of a temperature over 38° C / 100.4° F

One or more of the following symptoms:
- Cough
- Sore throat
- Generalised aches and pains
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea / vomiting / diarrhea
Your local medical facility may have a designated influenza center that may offer testing.

What should I do?
- If you have antiviral drugs available, decide whether you should take them as soon as possible since their effects are time-sensitive.
- If you decide to use the drugs, contact a doctor.
- Monitor your health actively. Keep a daily log of symptoms and record your temperature twice a day.
- Do not measure your temperature within 30 minutes of eating or drinking.
- Get adequate rest and plenty of sleep.
- Drink 8 – 12 standard glasses of fluids a day, unless you have been told to restrict your fluid intake for medical reasons.
- If you have gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) avoid fatty, spicy or fried foods. Drink liquids or eat soft, easily-digested foods such as biscuits, toast, bananas, rice, cooked cereal, and applesauce.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Use warm salt water gargles as needed (2 teaspoons of salt in a standard glass of water).
- Suck on hard candy, herbal throat lozenges, or over-the-counter throat lozenges (sugar free if you have diabetes).
- Take acetaminophen / paracetamol or ibuprofen. Follow the manufacturer’s labelling for dosage.

When do I need to see a doctor?
Most people will get better without any intervention within 5 to 10 days.
However, you may need to telephone a doctor for further advice.
If possible, phone first before going to a facility for care, and let the staff know that you believe you have influenza.

Seek further advice:
- If antiviral drugs may be available (best taken in first 48 hours of the illness)
- If symptoms last longer than 10 days
- If illness becomes worse after 5 days
- If breathing is difficult or coughing produces yellow / green phlegm or blood
- If experiencing severe or persistent vomiting
- If fever is high or prolonged
- If you are worried - If you are severely unwell, go straight to a hospital.

How do I minimize the chance of infecting others?
- Isolate yourself as much as possible while you are ill.
Avoid close face-to-face contact (within 1 meter/ 3 feet).
- Stay home.
Do not go to work, and try not to go to areas where people will be gathering. - Within your home, isolate yourself as much as you can. Sleep in a separate room.

Ensure your room is well-ventilated.
- If you must have face-to-face contact with others, wear a mask.
Avoid touching, do not shake hands.
Pay attention to hygiene
– Cover your cough, use disposable tissues, wash your hands frequently and encourage others to do the same.

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