Swine Flu - Symptoms and Signs

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What are the symptoms of swine flu?

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to most influenza infections: fever (100 F or greater), cough, nasal secretions, fatigue, and headache, with fatigue being reported in most infected individuals. Some patients may also get a sore throat, rash, body aches, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In Mexico, many of the initial patients infected with H1N1 influenza were young adults, which made some investigators speculate that a strong immune response, as seen in young people, may cause some collateral tissue damage.The incubation period from exposure to first symptoms is about one to four days, with an average of two days. The symptoms last about one to two weeks and can last longer if the person has a severe infection.

Some patients develop severe respiratory symptoms and need respiratory support (such as a ventilator to breathe for the patient). Patients can get pneumonia (bacterial secondary infection) if the viral infection persists, and some can develop seizures. Death often occurs from secondary bacterial infection of the lungs; appropriate antibiotics need to be used in these patients. The usual mortality (death) rate for typical influenza A is about 0.1%, while the 1918 "Spanish flu" epidemic had an estimated mortality rate ranging from 2%-20%. Swine (H1N1) flu in Mexico had about 160 deaths and about 2,500 confirmed cases, which would correspond to a mortality rate of about 6%, but these initial data were revised and the mortality rate worldwide was estimated to be much lower. Fortunately, the mortality rate of H1N1 remained low and similar to that of the conventional flu (average conventional flu mortality rate is about 36,000 per year; projected H1N1 flu mortality rate was 90,000 per year in the U.S. as determined by the president's advisory committee, but it never approached that high number).

Fortunately, although H1N1 developed into a pandemic (worldwide) flu strain, the mortality rate in the U.S. and many other countries only approximated the usual numbers of flu deaths worldwide. Speculation about why the mortality rate remained much lower than predicted includes increased public awareness and action that produced an increase in hygiene (especially hand washing), a fairly rapid development of a new vaccine, and patient self-isolation if symptoms developed.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: 35-44 Female Published: June 01

My swine flu started off with a fever and headache, aching all over, then stuffy nose, cough and fatigue. The coughing was so bad that I barely slept. About five days into it, I got pink eye in both eyes. About one week later, there was some vomiting. I missed a week and a half of work. I felt horrible; it was the sickest I've ever been. I don't think I ate much of anything for two weeks.

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Comment from: TwoTusker, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 08

I have had swine flu for about a week now. The worst symptoms are extreme body aches, sinus pressure with crushing headaches, deep coughing, runny nose and no appetite. I'm hungry, but nothing sounds good and when I eat, everything tastes horrible. I eat anyway because I know I have to, but it isn't pleasant. Things that help: a humidifier to help congestion and cough, lots of Tylenol on hand to keep the fever and pain under control, a nasal rinse to clear the sinuses and lessen the headaches. Cold medicines help a little bit. If you know someone who is sick and alone, they would probably appreciate some help getting stuff from the store that they need. Going out isn't a good idea at all.

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