Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Simple H1N1 preventive measures

Got this as a forward and found it to be quite logical and useful. Contains a simple explanation of the stages before you get infected by H1N1 virus. It also suggests simple preventive measures.

Some tips for prevention from an AIMS doctor


Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for general protection against H1N1 can't be deplored enough. Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven't yet). Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95.

Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper
respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps - not fully highlighted in most official communications - can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds
dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The 12 disciples

We attended mass at the Home for the Aged
That bright and beautiful Sunday morning
We entered the holy sanctuary and waited
The organ played a soulful melody
They sat in the front pews, 12 children under 3 feet tall
The celebrant began the Eucharist
I braced myself for distractions, noise and annoyance
I was indeed distracted with the children before me,
with awe though, rather than annoyance
The 12 children uttered prayers clearly, and slowly, all in unison
Their heads were bowed, their hands joined before them in prayer
They never turned right or left, their eyes never left the altar
They didn’t speak to each other, or murmur or giggle
Their knew every part of the mass and what it required of them
Their hearts were focused only on His Majesty
Those 12 children drowned the rest of us 500 gathered there
With their praise and worship of the Lord
I was humbled during that Eucharistic celebration
By voices and hearts much smaller and yet so much larger than mine
I learn't a lesson that beautiful Sunday morning in that Old aged home
Indeed, one has to be like those little children,
in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven

--- Margaret Desouza

Thursday, August 06, 2009


But like our obsessions our dreams do reappear, fueled by chance and circumstance, like the essentials of Spontaneous Prose, that are captured in random words and abstract pictures. Finally he wakes up in a dream to pen down his thoughts; white noise follows streams of consciousness, groping in the darkness, retracing Freud, forming patterns out of randomness. His heartbeat screeches to a halt but the world around chugs forward in constant motion. Words give way to snapshots as he identifies the background, the repetitive sunrise to sunset, that drives the focal length to infinity, the elements in constant motion; working together, widening the depth of focus. He identifies the background and then waits for the subject to find its place; those random words and abstract pictures which in continuum form a poem. And it’s always poetry that begets poetry. There is no other way.

But people say that the poetry never lasts, and they are right. Except of course it does.