Monday, August 17, 2009

When prevention is better than cure

LAST week, an Internet news portal quoted a local expert as saying that excessive physical activity could make one more vulnerable to influenza A (H1N1).

The academician alleged that physical activities beyond the body’s tolerance could lead to a highly acidic condition in the body which could disable its ability to fight infection.

The story reminded me of an e-mail I received recently, which described how the Thais keep themselves H1N1-free by drinking coconut water and munching on dates.

While I did not doubt the claims, I hope that the spam did not originate from some unscrupulous traders hoping to make a killing this Ramadan from the sale of dates because I have yet to buy my Mariamis.

A similar e-mail on how papaya juice could cure dengue also made its rounds some time last year.

Someone I know who received the e-mail actually fed a tablespoon of the bitter juice to her spouse who had contracted dengue.

He recovered, of course, but who can tell if it was the doctor’s medicine, the drips, or the papain that worked? Could it be the combination of all — and perhaps, some luck, too? As more H1N1 cases rise and a cure still far down the horizon, I am sure more unconventional ways of dealing with the pandemic will emerge.

With the Internet freely available, many more will come to our knowledge as we log on to check our mails or read related n e w s.

But as statistics continue to climb, the best option is to keep a cool head and to leave it to the experts when it comes to diagnosis.

And where self-preservation is concerned, prevention is better than cure.

Observing personal hygiene by using sanitisers regularly and wearing a mask to protect your breathing space when in high-risk areas can reduce your chances of an infection.

The only stumbling blocks I see is when the supply of both run short.

Last Friday, I found out that some pharmacies outside the city have already run out of waterless hand sanitisers.

Some pharmacists promised that the new batch would come in by this week.

Others said they were not sure when the new shipment would arrive and this was greeted with looks of disappointment from the shoppers although soap and other common disinfectants will just do as well to clean one’s hands before eating or after going to the toilet.

The masks are still widely available is most pharmacies, from flimsy ones priced at 60 sen each to those with carbon mesh which cost RM6 each.

The latter is said to be able to deal with more than just air-borne contaminants.

Some sales assistants who were familiar with N95 the handphone are also now quite well-versed in N95 the masks although few could explain how the number came about or why it was better than most particulate barriers.

Of course, few could advise me on how long one can wear a mask before it becomes a breeding ground for every imaginable microbe.

I wonder if there are masks that you could wash, disinfect, and use again considering the costs of using disposable ones.

Can a bandana, folded several times and wrapped around the face, be just as effective in keeping out the air-borne contagion? I suppose a better option would be to just embrace social distancing as recommended by a colleague weeks ago.

Staying home during the weekends might expose me to the danger of turning into a couch potato but it is less painful than having to throw away expensive masks after each outing.

No comments:

Post a Comment