New website offers personalized advice on H1N1

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Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new website which gives personalised advice on coping with swine flu and other cold and flu symptoms.

The advice is designed to help everyone cope with pandemic flu without having to see their doctor, but may be especially useful for students away from home for the first time.

The website was developed by Professor Lucy Yardley, a health psychologist at the University of Southampton. Advice is provided by a team of medical scientists led by Professor Paul Little, a GP and professor in primary care research at the University's School of Medicine. He comments:

"As the autumn approaches we'll see more cases of swine flu in the UK. Our aim is to give everyone advice they can trust about how to relieve their symptoms, and whether they should see their doctor. The government advises most people suffering from swine flu to stay at home and this website can provide detailed help on coping with the virus."

Professor Yardley explains: "Our website provides practical advice based on scientific evidence about what will work. We are launching it at the start of the new university year as our research has shown that students away from home for the first time are especially in need of advice on how to cope with their symptoms."

The site, Internetdr.org.uk, which can be found at http://www.Internetdr.org.uk:

- Asks users to describe their symptoms and then gives specific advice on what may be causing them, how long they may stay ill, and whether antibiotics can help.

- Provides precise up-to-the-minute evidence-based information about how to cope with different symptoms by using natural remedies or over-the-counter medicines.

- Explains how to tell if you just have a cold or flu, or whether you may be developing conditions such as sinusitis or bronchitis.

Website users are asked to answer some questions about how they feel about coping with their symptoms before and after using the website, to see whether the new website helps them cope better than a comparison page of simple advice.

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