The best way to avoid catching the swine flu, and many other types of infectious diseases, is to practice good hygiene habits-washing your hands at regular intervals-and getting vaccinated, especially if you are in a high risk group for contracting this novel H1N1 virus. The swine flu vaccine is scheduled to be available this fall. But what if you, or a family member, come down with flu-like symptoms? How do you know if you have the swine flu or seasonal flu?
Signs and Symptoms of Novel H1N1 Viral Infection
The symptoms of swine flu in people include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- And sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
Sounds an awful lot like symptoms of the seasonal flu, doesn’t it? But while seasonal influenza is most dangerous to the elderly, the novel H1N1 virus often becomes more serious in children and young adults. Although younger people are at higher risk, about 70% of those who have been hospitalized with the novel H1N1 virus have had other medical conditions that made them vulnerable to serious flu-related complications, such as pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and kidney disease.
What to Do If You Think You Have Swine Flu
This flu can last a week or longer, and a person considered to be contagious for at least 24 hours after fever is gone. Seasonal flu is contagious from about 24 hours before symptoms appear, and then for at least seven days, although infants and young children may remain contagious for longer. CDC experts expect that the swine flu has the same incubation period and length of infection.
If you develop flu-like symptoms:
- Stay home and away from others as much as possible.
- Phone your health care provider’s office, to inform them that you are ill, and to discuss your symptoms and care.
- Do not go to work or school.
- If you must go out to get medical care or other necessities, wear a face mask, and cover your coughs and sneezes with fabric or tissue.
- Do not sneeze into your bare hands.
What to Do If You Become Seriously Ill With Swine Flu
If the novel H1N1 swine flu virus remains the same as what was seen in the spring, it is expected that most people will recover without the need for medical treatment.
If you develop swine flu, and have severe symptoms, or if you are at high risk for complications, your health care provider may recommend that you seek medical care. Testing for the novel H1N1 virus is available, and your doctor can determine if you need to be tested for the flu, if you require antiviral drugs, and if you should be hospitalized.
See the CDC’s page on “What to Do If You Get Flu-like Symptoms” for a list of signs and symptoms of severe swine flu illness in children and adults, as well as for general information and updates on the novel H1N1 virus. Also take time to learn about the difference between novel H1N1 swine flu and seasonal influenza.
The majority of information in this article was obtained by researching the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) and World Health Organization’s (WHO) information on swine flu available as of August, 09, 2009.
Please note: The information in this article is not to be followed as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your physician or primary health practitioner for information regarding your own personal
health and necessary treatments.