How do We Know It’s Swine Flu?

This illness is not well demarcated from many other respiratory illness, like sore throat, other influenza viral sickness, tonsillitis etc.

All above mentioned conditions would have fever and pain in throat in common, making it difficult to diagnose the condition.

Diagnosing swine flu is difficult on the basis of symptoms. You get suspicious of having this illness if you have high fever and chills with any two of the following symptoms:

  • Cough, which is persistent, with or without any sputum
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Use of extra muscles while breathing, like those of the neck, the ones between the ribs
  • Running nose
  • Pain or soreness in throat
  • Aches in different muscle groups of the body and joints. Commonly, the knee joint is affected.
  • Vomiting or watery diarrhoea
  • Headache

If you are a heart patient, an asthmatic or have any other underlying medical condition, it may get exacerbated.

What is Swine Flu?

This is a viral infection affecting our respiratory tract. Caused by H1N1 virus.

Are All Cases of Swine Flu Hospitalized?

No. A few may have mild symptoms and may recover at home when given supportive treatment.

However, if the patient has difficulty in breathing, very high fever, he is dehydrated or has cold or clammy hands, hospitalization is suggested.

If neglected, swine flu may be fatal.

Common Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Fever, with chills and rigor
  • Fatigue, with muscle aches, especially in the calf muscles

How Long Does a Person Remain Infectious?

You are infectious, that is, potentially capable of spreading the infection, one day before you get any symptom till 7 to 8 days after you become sick.

It is, however, better to avoid people till you have cough.

Can Children Take Tamiflu?

Anybody can take this medicine, even children below 5 years of age.

However, do not take the medicine unnecessarily. Take it only on the advice of your doctor.

Advantages of Taking Tamiflu

  • It shortens the span of this viral illness.
  • Reduces the risk of developing complications.

Can Tamiflu Prevent You From Getting Swine Flu?

No.

Who is at a Higher Risk of Developing Swine Flu?

  • Young kids, less than 2 years of age
  • Elderly people, more than 65 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Asthmatics
  • Patients with any underlying heart disease, like ishchemic heart disease or some valvular problem
  • Patient suffering from any underlying lung problem, like emphysema, cystic fibrosis,
  • Post radiotherapy or chemotherapy patients
  • Diabetics
  • Immuno compromised individuals, like those receiving steroids, HIV patients, post surgery patients .

Complications of Swine Flu

The commonest complication is pneumonia, where the lung tissue gets affected. If left unchecked, the condition may even be fatal.

Patients having any pre existing lung disease may show worsening of the condition. Asthmatics may show increased wheezing and breathlessness.

Worsening of heart problems in those having any pre existing heart problem

Neurological signs, ranging from confusion, lack of alertness, disorientation, fits.

Asthmatics and Swine Flu

Asthmatics need to take precautions during the flu season. All flus, like swine flu, may  take a severe form in asthmatics.

Patients show increased wheezing, breathlessness and use of accessory muscles for breathing.

Inhalers are to be given 4 to 5 times per day.

It is better to avoid giving oral steroids, which weaken the immune system and make you prone to catch infections.