Dr. Vinay Goyal / Dr. Oz Swine Flu Prevention Tips

Netlore Archive: Swine Flu Prevention Myths

Forwarded email attributed to various Indian physicians as well as America's "Dr. Oz" purports to give sound advice on preventing H1N1 swine flu.

Description: Forwarded email / Viral text
Circulating since: Aug. 2009
Status: Partly true / Misattributed

Example:
Email contributed by Griff, Oct. 8, 2009:

Prevent Swine Flu - Good Advice

Dr. Vinay Goyal is an MBBS,DRM,DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital, Bombay Hospital, Saifee Hospital, Tata Memorial etc. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).

The following message given by him, I feel makes a lot of sense and is important for all to know

The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid 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 (tea, coffee, etc) 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.

I suggest you pass this on to your entire e-list. You never know 20 who might pay attention to it - and STAY ALIVE because of it...



Analysis: I contacted the doctor most often cited as the author of this text, Dr. Vinay Goyal, MBBS, MD, DM, Associate Professor of Neurology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and he replied that he did not write it.

The article has also been falsely attributed to a Dr. Subhash Mehta of Bangalore, and more recently to American TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz (compare the above to Dr. Oz's actual swine flu prevention tips published online).

Given that the message originally circulated unsigned as early as mid-August 2009, (examples: #1, #2), it seems safe to say that these various attributions were added after the fact in an effort to boost its credibility.

While some of the tips listed above are uncontroversial and match the recommendations of authoritative sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, others are less widely accepted and subject to disagreement among medical professionals.

Let's take them one by one.

1. Frequent hand-washing

Recommended by the CDC: "Sometimes people may become infected by touching something — such as a surface or object — with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. . . Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub." (Source)

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach

Recommended by the CDC: "Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way." (Source)

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water

NOT among the recommendations issued by the CDC or WHO. Some individual doctors support the notion that gargling helps prevent the flu, others don't.

  • For: "It basically washes the viruses down into the stomach where they can't do any harm." — Dr. Wyn Andrews, UT Health Science Center, Tyler, Texas (Source)
  • Against: "I don't even know of any evidence basis for gargling preventing influenza." — Dr. Randy Taplitz, clinical director of infectious diseases at UCSD Medical Center, San Diego (Source)
  • Against: "It's hard to say if any of these things work, most of them have not been clinically or scientifically proven. Most children cannot gargle, especially if they're very young. So it's not really even a possibility." — Dr. Gaurov Dayal, Chief Medical Officer for Adventist Health Care, Bethesda, MD (Source)
  • Against: "The gargling myth has been around for some time. I think it stems from the flu from 1918. People thought gargling regularly decreases their chance from the flu." — John Monroe, Norfolk Public Health Department, Norfolk, VA (Source)

4. Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water

This is not among the recommendations issued by the CDC or WHO, though some individual doctors do support the practice.

  • For: "Blowing the nose really good once or twice a day and using moistened cotton swabs is a really good idea and can reduce the nasal population of viruses." — Dr. Wyn Andrews, UT Health Science Center, Tyler, Texas (Source)
  • Against: "Cleaning your nostrils with salt I have not heard. But it probably does not do a lot to protect you from influenza." — John Monroe, Norfolk Public Health Department, Norfolk, VA (Source)

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C

This is not among the recommendations issued by the CDC or WHO.

Though research suggests that vitamin C indeed plays a role in bolstering the immune system and protecting against disease, there's disagreement within the medical community as to the value of loading up on specific nutrients versus maintaining an overall nutritious, well-balanced diet to fight colds and flu.

Dr. Gaurov Dayal, Chief Medical Officer for Adventist Health Care, Bethesda, MD, sums the prevailing view: "Loading up on Vitamin C will help. That being said, does one specific vitamin prevent H1N1? I don't think that's been proven and again, I would stress that people should have a balanced meal, but not really specifically go for one vitamin over the other." (Source)

6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can

This is not among the recommendations issued by the CDC or WHO. Again, there is disagreement among medical professionals as to how valuable this practice is in preventing influenza.

  • For: "Hot liquids wash the bacteria into your digestive tract, where the chemical stew in your stomach can kill the germs before they spread." — Dr. Donna Barsky, pharmacist with Texas Star Pharmacy in Plano, TX (Source)
  • Against: "The email also suggests drinking warm liquids to wash viruses off and into the stomach, where they cannot survive. Another recommendation is to boost your natural immunity with foods or supplements rich in vitamin C. But Dr. Taplitz says again there's no evidence to support doing those things will help." — Dr. Randy Taplitz, clinical director of infectious diseases at UCSD Medical Center, San Diego (Source)

    See the following for RELIABLE swine flu prevention tips:

    What Can I Do to Protect Myself from Catching Influenza A(H1N1)?
    World Health Organization

    2009 H1N1 Flu ("Swine Flu") and You
    Centers for Disease Control

    Last updated: 10/31/09