Swine Flu: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Preventive Measures

August 30, 2022

Dr. Adarsh Nayak
Consultant Physician and Diabetologist
MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine)

Swine Flu: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Preventive Measures

The rapidly spreading swine flu (H1N1 flu) is a growing concern in India of late. After the outbreak of coronavirus and monkeypox, swine flu is hitting the country badly. Many parts of the country are reporting new cases of H1N1 flu these days. The current change in the weather is one of the contributing factors to transmissible diseases. Hospitals witness an influx of swine flu patients increasing, and this has increased anxiety nationwide. Medical experts have warned the masses of the outbreak of swine flu and other harmful viral infections and encouraged us to use masks and follow social distancing guidelines. So, you might be wondering what swine flu exactly is, what its causes, symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures are, aren’t you? Scroll down to discover all about the concerning swine flu.

What is H1N1 Flu or Swine Flu?

H1N1 flu results due to the H1N1 strain of influenza i.e. flu virus. This is a human respiratory infection resulting due to an influenza strain that originated in pigs. In 2009, scientists identified a particular strain of flu virus called H1N1. This swine virus was responsible for the global flu outbreak in 2009-2010. As numerous individuals got infected with the H1N1 flu worldwide, WHO had declared it to be a pandemic back then. The swine flu virus is a mutated virus. After the end of the pandemic, the H1N1 virus turned out to be one of the strains responsible for the occurrence of seasonal flu.

Why H1N1 flu is called Swine Flu?

The virus got transmitted to humans who happened to have come in direct contact with the infected pigs or environments contaminated with the swine flu virus. So, the infection gets the name swine flu. Also, many genes present in this infectious virus are identical to that in the influenza virus found in pigs in North America. 

Causes of H1N1 Flu:

H1N1 virus enters your body when you breathe in the contaminated minute droplets of an infected person or come in contact with a contaminated surface and touch your eyes, mouth, or nose. The virus infects the cells that line your throat, nose, and lungs. The risk factors also include travelling to a city or place where several individuals are infected with the H1N1 flu.

How Does H1N1 spread?

Although swine flu initially infected people who came in direct contact with infected pigs, it now spreads even from human to human. It is believed to spread just like seasonal flu spread among the people. You get infected and suffer from flu on coming in direct contact with respiratory droplets from the sneeze and cough of the infected individual. The infection can also spread when you touch an object that the infected individual had touched recently and then you touch your nose, eyes, or mouth. 

Symptoms of Swine Flu:

The signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to the symptoms that result due to the other flu strains. You may develop symptoms in 1 to 3 days after getting exposed to the virus. The symptoms are mostly mild, but some may develop serious signs too. Here are some common symptoms of swine flu.

·      Cough

·      Sore throat

·      Chills

·      Fever

·      Stuffy or runny nose

·      Fatigue

·      Body aches

·      Headache

·      Vomiting and nausea

·      Diarrhoea

In serious causes, severe illness and death can occur due to swine flu. So, you should look out for the warning signs that may differ in children and adults.

Emergency Warning Signs of H1N1 Flu in Children:

·      Breathing difficulties or fast breathing

·      Dehydration

·      Bluish skin or lips

·      Symptoms of flu that improve but relapse with fever and aggravation

·      Fever with rash

·      Sluggish such that kids avoid interacting and waking up

·      Irritability so much so that the child doesn’t like to be held

·      Seizures

·      Severe pain in the muscles

Emergency Warning Signs of H1N1 Flu in Adults:

·      Sudden dizziness

·      Pressure or pain in the abdomen or chest

·      Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing

·      Confusion

·      Seizures

·      Persistent or severe vomiting

If you happen to experience any of these symptoms, you should rush to the doctor or hospital for immediate medical assistance.

Treatment for H1N1 Flu:

Antiviral drugs are prescribed to treat swine flu. Relenza and Tamiflu are the drugs that are usually prescribed. They are the most effective when taken within 48 hours after noticing the symptoms of flu. However, not everybody needs them. Some individuals have healed even without them.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Falling Prey to H1N1 flu:

Here are some simple practices that you can implement to keep the H1N1 virus at bay.

·      Avoid touching your nose and mouth.

·      Wash your hands using a good soap or sanitiser before eating and after returning home from the outdoors.

·      Avoid going out in crowded places or spaces that are not well-ventilated

·      Prefer wearing a mask when going out, particularly in crowded areas where you might not be able to maintain social distancing.

·      Develop healthy habits, such as consuming nutritious food, having adequate sleep, and practising exercises or staying active daily.

·      Maintain clean and sanitized surroundings.

Precautions to Exercise When Someone in Your Family Gets Swine Flu:

If any of your family members happen to contract H1N1 viral infection, you should exercise these precautionary measures.

·      Avoid close physical contact with the infected member, such as avoiding sharing glasses and towels.

·      Limit your contact with the affected person.

·      Wash your hands using a good soap or sanitiser often.

·      Avoid visitors at home.

·      If anyone enters your home, they should not come in close contact with the infected family member.

·      Maintain a physical distance of at least 1 metre from the infected or potentially affected family member.

Vaccination for H1N1 Flu

Fortunately, the H1N1 flu vaccine is available in India to safeguard us from the potentially hazardous flu. It works by injecting a small dose of the virus into your body that helps you develop immunity against the infection. It helps prevent the flu. The H1N1 vaccine is given to adults and children above 6 months or 1 year of age. Also, the vaccine does not cause severe side effects. Redness and pain at the site of injection, fever, or an allergic reaction are some discomforts that you may experience after having the swine flu vaccine. Note that the vaccine can’t treat an active infection i.e. a person who has developed H1N1 flu and suffering from it. Also, the H1N1 vaccine doesn’t help prevent avian flu. So, if you happen to experience any symptoms of swine flu or develop serious discomforts, seek medical assistance without any delay. Reach out to us at https://specialisthospital.in/ or call for emergency on 080 4212 2222. Our certified, expert doctors and healthcare professionals will rush to attend to you and provide you with the best line of treatment for a smooth and speedy recovery. Stay safe, follow all precautionary measures, and heal effectively and smoothly if you catch an H1N1 infection by opting for our quality medical care.

References:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/flu/h1n1_faqs_archive.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/swine-flu/symptoms-causes/syc-20378103

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