Swine flu or the H1N1 influenza A virus affected humans for the first time in 2009 and WHO declared it as a pandemic in 2010. But globally, people have now developed immunity against this virus. So, it’s no more a cause of major concern. Now, the H1N1 virus is like any other regular human flu virus that affects us during the flu season.
What is Swine Flu?
The H1N1 type A influenza is a viral infection which originally was transmitted from pigs to humans. Now, it spreads from one human to another. The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to regular influenza and include fever, headaches, chills, diarrhoea, coughing and sneezing. One can prevent the infection by maintaining basic hygiene and wearing a proper surgical mask during flu season. The number of cases shoots up during the summers and monsoon seasons. While there are various vaccines available to prevent the disease, a wide range of antiviral treatments are there to combat it as well. One should however only opt for these medicines under a doctor’s supervision as indiscriminate use might result in susceptibility to the virus.
Swine Flu Symptoms
Most of the manifestations of swine flu are quite similar to regular influenza. Symptoms include:
Like the regular flu, swine flu can trigger serious health conditions like pneumonia (a lung disorder), and other breathing problems. It can also make your asthma and diabetes symptoms worse. If you experience signs like shortness of breath, severe vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, or confusion, consult a doctor immediately.
Causes of Swine Flu
Swine flu is a respiratory illness caused by the swine influenza virus (SIV). The pandemic of swine flu was caused by the SIV sub type of H1N1. But other subtypes H1N2, H1N3, H3N1, H3N2 and H2N3 can also cause the illness. The virus was termed H1N1 because it mainly exhibited two types of antigens hemagglutinin 1 and neuraminidase.
The mode of transmission is the same as any other flu. If you come in contact with virus-loaded droplets sprayed in the air as an infected person coughs and sneezes, you may catch the flu. Also, you can are likely to suffer from this condition if you touch a surface touched by an affected person or loaded with tiny drops infested with the H1N1 virus. You can get it from a person one day before the symptoms manifest and as long as 7 days after he gets sick. Children can be contagious up to 10 days. Bacon, ham, or any other pork product can’t give you swine flu.
Swine Flu Risk Factors
According to the observations of various studies, some people are more likely to catch the swine flu than others. The high-risk group includes:
These risk groups have been identified on the basis of observations. However, this observation doesn’t confirm that you will suffer from swine flu if you fall in these risk groups or experience flu-like symptoms. Here are the IMA guidelines to tackle swine flu (H1N1 influenza) in India.
Diagnosis of Swine Flu
A lab test is essential for the diagnosis of swine flu as its symptoms are very similar to those of any other variation of influenza. Your doctor will recommend a swab test for the confirmatory diagnosis of swine flu. A swab from your nose or throat for detecting swine flu.
Treatment of Swine Flu
If you test positive for swine flu, treatment needs to be initiated immediately. According to the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD), swine flu can be completely treated if it is diagnosed at a very early stage.
The anti‐viral medicines oseltamivir (Tamiflu/Fluvir) and zanamivir (Relenza) are prescribed to patients with this respiratory condition. Oseltamivir is administered to adults as well as children below the age of 1 year.
According to the guidelines of NICD, medicines should be administered within 48 hours of the first symptom. These drugs work by inhibiting the ability of virus to release progeny virus particles.
Antibiotics aren’t a prescribed for this condition as it is caused by viruses. Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers are also advised alongside antiviral drugs to relieve symptoms like pain and fever. However, aspirin, an OTC drug, shouldn’t be given to children, suggest doctors.
Swine Flu diet
Having the right kinds of food and avoiding some will play an instrumental role in making the healing process smooth and fast. Here is what you should eat and avoid. Here are the food rules to follow:
- Any flu, including the swine flu, can cause dehydration. Dehydration can give rise to symptoms like nausea and vomiting in many people. So, keeping yourself hydrated is a must when you are down with this condition.
- A person suffering from swine flu needs to boost the immune system with vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. Also, home-cooked foods are recommended during this condition. Whole grains should be part of your diet too if you are suffering from swine flu. All these foods come with a lot of phytochemicals and essential minerals like zinc.
- Avoid deep-fried, spicy, processed and sugar-loaded foods. They can aggravate your symptoms.