What happens if you have swine flu?
Symptoms of H1N1 swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Many people with swine flu have had diarrhoea and vomiting. That means that you and your doctor can’t know, just based on your symptoms, if you’ve got swine flu.
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It is indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source declared the H1N1 pandemic over in August 2010. Since then, the H1N1 virus has been known as a regular human flu virus. It continues to spread during flu season like other strains of the flu.
The flu shot developed each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source usually includes vaccination against a type of H1N1 virus.
Symptoms of H1N1 swine flu are:
- Like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.
- Many people with swine flu have had diarrhoea and vomiting. But these symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions.
- That means that you and your doctor can’t know, just based on your symptoms, if you’ve got swine flu.
- Health care professionals may offer a rapid flu test, although a negative result doesn’t mean you don’t have the flu.
- The accuracy of the test depends on the quality of the manufacturer’s test, the sample collection method, and how much virus a person is shedding at the time of testing.
The biggest question that embarks all of us is,
Who is at highest risk from H1N1 swine flu?
Most U.S. cases of H1N1 swine flu have been in children and young adults. It’s not clear whether this will change as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic wanes and the virus becomes a seasonal flu bug.
But certain groups are at particularly high risk of severe disease or bad outcomes if they get the flu:
- Pregnant women are six times more likely to have severe flu disease than women who are not pregnant.
- Young children, especially those under 2 years of age
- People with asthma.
- People with COPD or other chronic lung conditions
- People with cardiovascular conditions (except high blood pressure)
- People with liver problems
- People with kidney problems
- People with blood disorders, including sickle cell disease
- People with neurologic disorders
- People with neuromuscular disorders
- People with metabolic disorders, including diabetes
- People with immune suppression, including HIV infection and medications that suppress the immune system, such as cancer chemotherapy or anti-rejection drugs for transplants
- Residents of a nursing home or other chronic-care facility
- Elderly people are at high risk of severe flu disease — if they get it. Relatively few swine flu cases have been seen in people over age 65.
People in these groups should seek medical care as soon as they get flu symptoms.
The immediate action.
If you come into close contact with a person who has the flu — especially if that person did not cover a cough or sneeze when you were within 6 feet — you’ve been exposed.
Exposure does not guarantee infection or illness, so there’s still a good chance you won’t get the flu.
What you should do next depends on your risk for getting a severe disease and on the risk of severe disease in others with whom you cannot avoid contact.
If you have any of the conditions that put you at increased risk of severe H1N1 swine flu –
- lung disease,
- heart disease,
- neurologic disease,
- immune suppression, or other chronic conditions
it may be riskier for you to get the flu than for other people.
That also goes for children under age 2 years, young people under age 19 taking daily aspirin therapy, and people over age 65. And if you are a caretaker for an infant under age 6 months, that child is at risk of severe disease if he or she catches the flu from you.
There is more about Swine Flu tests you need to know.
Don’t wait for a rapid flu test. The tests often give negative results even in people who really have H1N1 swine flu. If you’ve got flu symptoms and you’re at risk of severe disease, start taking flu drugs right away. The drugs work best when taken within 48 hours of the first symptom, although even when taken much later they can prevent severe illness.
If you think you have swine flu or come across people with swine flu, what should you do?
If you have flu symptoms, stay home, and when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Afterwards, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. That will help prevent your flu from spreading. If you can do it comfortably, wear a surgical mask if you must be around others.
If you have only mild flu symptoms, you do not need medical attention unless your illness gets worse. Heed these signs of a medical emergency:
- Have fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Have bluish or grey skin colour
- Are not drinking enough fluid
- Are not waking up or not interacting
- Have severe or persistent vomiting
- Are so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Have flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough
- Have a fever with a rash
- Have a fever and then have a seizure or sudden mental or behavioural change.