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What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a term that is being replaced by the designation H1N1 influenza and refers to a particular type of influenza virus that has a genetic makeup that includes viral genes that are associated with the infection of pigs. Swine flu was the cause of an influenza outbreak that was considered to be a pandemic in 2009. The term swine flu came about because the type of influenza virus responsible for the 2009 pandemic, H1N1, contained genetic elements of influenza virus that were mainly thought to be characteristic for influenza strains that caused flu-like symptoms in pigs but had genetically changed to be able to cause flu in humans.
Additionally, another type of swine flu virus, H3N2v, has been discovered. It is not as contagious as H1N1, but there are reports of this virus spreading from pigs to humans. In general, this swine flu is similar in most aspects to the disease caused by H1N1, but it is apparently less severe and is not easily spread from person to person. This article will focus on the swine flu virus H1N1.
Is swine flu (H1N1) contagious?
Swine flu is contagious from person to person. It can be spread through the air by droplets produced by sneezing, coughing, or by direct contact with saliva or mucus secretions. In addition, the virus can survive for a short time outside the infected individual, so people can indirectly contact H1N1 by touching areas (desks, utensils, cups, tabletops, for example) where droplets have recently landed after an infected person with the virus has inadvertently contaminated a surface.
What is the contagious period for swine flu (H1N1)?
The contagious period for H1N1 is about one day before symptoms develop to about a week after symptoms develop in individuals who spontaneously overcome the infection. In severely infected people and in some children, some contagious viruses may be shed for a few weeks.
How will I know if I have swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu (H1N1) begin like regular flu symptoms and include fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue. Some individuals may also have diarrhea and vomiting. The majority of people with swine flu are not diagnosed definitively with tests. Unfortunately, these symptoms can be similar to those produced by other diseases so usually a person finds out that they have swine flu (H1N1) after contacting their physician, who can run several different blood tests and other viral identification tests to determine what type of flu or other illness may be present. The tests are usually run on those with more severe symptoms.
How is swine flu transmitted?
Swine flu (H1N1) is spread by person-to-person contact by either touching surfaces contaminated by an infected person or by encountering expelled droplets produced when a person is coughing or sneezing. Consequently, swine flu is spread both directly and indirectly by infected individuals to others. However, the spread of swine flu is not 100% effective, as researchers have suggested that people living in the same house with someone infected by the H1N1 virus will have only an 8%-19% chance of getting infected.
How will I know if I am cured of swine flu?
The majority of people who get swine flu (H1N1) spontaneously "cure" themselves with their effective immune response. Others may benefit from the use of antiviral medications and/or supportive therapy, which can include hospitalization for those patients who have severe infections. Unfortunately, even though individuals can be cured of a specific viral type, influenza viruses (including ones that fall into the general category of swine flu viruses) mutate fairly rapidly so that immune protection against one viral type does not mean that a person will be fully or even partially protected against other influenza virus types. This is the reason that each year a new vaccine is typically produced for the flu season that is designed to protect vaccinated people against the predominant influenza types expected to be present in the population.
When should I contact a medical caregiver about swine flu (H1N1)?
Most people who become infected with H1N1 viruses do not need to contact a medical caregiver because the symptoms abate and the infected individual recovers over a period of about a week or so. However, if the symptoms become serious (for example, the patient's symptoms worsen), it is important to contact a physician urgently or possibly emergently. Anyone with symptoms of shortness of breath, confusion, rapid breathing, reduced responsiveness, or bluish skin (especially in children) should be taken to an emergency department.
Those with suppressed immune function, those who have multiple medical problems, or who are pregnant and suspect they have become infected with swine flu (H1N1) should contact their physician immediately. If they have any of the more severe symptoms listed above, they should consider going to an emergency department.
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"Information on Swine Influenza/Variant Influenza Virus." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated Aug 23, 2016.
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Aches, Pain, FeverAlthough a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
Children's Cold, Fever & FluColds and fevers are some of the most common ailments in children. Learn common cold symptoms, treatment options, over the counter (OTC) medicines for cold and fever, home remedies, how to relieve a sore throat, how to bring down a high temperature, whether chicken soup works, and more.
Chronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, cigarette smoking, GERD, postnasal drip, bronchitis, pneumonia, medications, and less frequently tumors or other lung disease.
Chronic cough treatment is based on the cause, but may be soothed natural and home remedies.
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DiarrheaDiarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Fatigue can be described in various ways. Sometimes fatigue is described as feeling a lack of energy and motivation (both mental and physical). The causes of fatigue are generally related to a variety of conditions or diseases, for example, anemia, mono, medications, sleep problems, cancer, anxiety, heart disease, and drug abuse.Treatment of fatigue is generally directed toward the condition or disease that is causing the fatigue.
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Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers.
Treatment of nausea and vomiting depends upon the cause.
Pregnancy: Swine Flu and the H1N1 VaccinePregnant and women who are breastfeeding are encouraged to receive the seasonal flu shot as well as the 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu) vaccine. H1N1 flu is treated with the medications Tamiflu® (oseltamivir) or Relenza® (zanamivir). Pregnant women should not receive the H1N1 attenuated nasal spray vaccine. Possible side effects of the H1N1 flu vaccine include muscle aches, fever, nausea, tiredness, or headache.
Safe Cold Flu Drugs for DiabeticsIf you have diabetes and catch a cold or the flu, can be more difficult to recover from infections and their complications, for example, pneumonia. Home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs used for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of colds and the flu may affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Some medications are OK to take if you have diabetes get a cold or the flu include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) to control symptoms of fever and pain. Most cough syrups are safe to take; however, check with your pediatrician to see what medications are safe to give your child if he or she has type 1 or 2 diabetes.
If you have diabetes and are sick with a cold or flu, you need to check your blood sugar levels more frequently. Continue taking your regular medications. Eat a diabetic low-glycemic index diet rich in antioxidants.
To prevent colds and the flu drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day. To replenish fluids, drink sports drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte to replenish electrolytes. Avoid people who are sick, sneezing, coughing, or have other symptoms of a cold or flu.
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.
Swine FluNovel H1N1 influenza A virus infection (swine flu) is an infection that generally is transferred from an infected pig to a human, however there have been reported cases where infection has occured with no contact with infected pigs. Symptoms of swine flu are "flu-like" and include fever, cough, and sore throat. Treatment is generally with the antibiotics oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza).