Swine flu, also known as H1N1 influenza, is a type of viral infection that infects the respiratory tract. It spreads really fast and in the same way as any flu from one person to the other. A simple sneeze, cough can spread thousands of viruses through droplets or by touching the contaminated surfaces like books, tables, and door handles etc.
Who is at risk of swine flu?
Children less than 5 years of age, adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes mellitus and people with low immunity
What are the symptoms of swine flu?
You may experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny and stuffy nose, tiredness, general body aches or gastric upset like vomiting, diarrhoea. If you have these symptoms for 48 hours, immediately consult a doctor.
How is it diagnosed?
Swine flu can be diagnosed clinically by a doctor by taking a history of the disease and its sign and symptoms. The diagnosis may further be confirmed by laboratory tests as advised by your doctor.
What is the treatment?
Your doctor may give you some medicines which should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water and other liquids like juices and soups as they will provide you with nutrients. Take lots of rest as it will help you to recover fast.
You can take over the counter painkillers like paracetamol for a headache, muscle ache or a sore throat.
There is no role of vaccination once you have developed the infection.
Some medicines are also available which can be used for the prevention of flu. However, these should be taken only when prescribed by a doctor.
How can swine flu be prevented?
You can prevent swine flu by following some simple day to day measures and also getting vaccinated if needed. Here are some important do’s and don’ts that you should remember:
1 . Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
2 . Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or handkerchief when you cough or sneeze. Do not reuse them. If you do not have a tissue or handkerchief, use the sleeve or cuff of your shirt.
3 . Gargle at least twice a day with warm salt water as the virus will take 2-3 days after initial infection in the nose/throat to grow and show symptoms.
4 . Clean your nose at least once every day with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water and blow the nose hard once a day.
5 . Take foods rich in Vitamin C (like Amla, lemon and other citrus fruits). These would help in improving your immunity.Drink warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) often. This may help to wash off the viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive or cause any harm.
6 . Drink warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) often. This may help to wash off the viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive or cause any harm.
1 . Avoid touching any part of your face.
2 . Avoid overcrowded places and direct contact with swine flu patients. If you feel sick, stay away from work/school and limit contact with others.
3 . Keep a distance of at least an arm’s length from the person having flu.
4 . Do not take medicines without consulting your doctor.
What should you know about the swine flu vaccine?
1 . Vaccination is generally recommended for people at high risk (as mentioned above).
2 . The vaccines are generally available in two variants – a lower dose for children till 35 months of age and higher dose for children above 36 months of age and for adults.
3 . If the vaccine is being given for the first time to a person, the doctor may recommend another dose after 4 weeks.
4 . It takes about 2 to 3 weeks for the vaccine to be effective. So, if you are exposed to flu immediately before or after vaccination, you could still develop the illness.
5 . You may need to be vaccinated every year as the type of virus causing swine flu (known as virus strains) can change every year and the protection from this vaccine remains for 6 to 12 months only.
6 . This vaccine will not protect you against the common cold, even if some symptoms are similar.
7 . If you have bought the vaccine from a pharmacy, try to store it at a temperature of 2 to 8 degree Celsius. Do not deep freeze the vaccine.