Swine Flu: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

swine flu

What Is Swine Flu?

You probably have heard about the swine flu, with the many myths surrounding it. What exactly is it, you`ve must have wondered. Keep reading to find out. Swine flu, also called influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Early symptoms of the flu are body aches, fatigue,  chills, cough, fever, and sore throat. Influenza could get resolved on its own, but could also be deadly. Flu viruses travel through droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. The four types of influenza viruses are A, B, C, and D. Human influenza A and B viruses usually cause seasonal epidemics. Influenza C infections may cause mild respiratory illness, while influenza D viruses affect cattle; they usually don`t cause any illness in humans. Some people are at higher risk of developing flu complications; they include:

  • children younger than age 5
  • adults older than age 65
  • pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • workers at nursing homes
  • people who suffer chronic illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, diabetes, and liver disease
  • obese people with a body mass index of 40 or higher

Complications of Swine Flu

Usually, people who get flu recover between a few days to less than two weeks, but they may develop complications such as:

  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • asthma flare-ups
  • sinus infections
  • heart problems
  • ear infections

Symptoms of Swine Flu

The common symptoms of swine flu include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • body aches

Note, however, that these symptoms are not restricted to swine flu.

Swine flu is usually caused by a strain of the influenza virus called H1N1, which commonly infects pigs. Unlike typhus that gets transmitted by ticks and lice, the virus spreads more between people, rather than between animals. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, and touching items after touching their eyes and nose. When non-infected people touch such contaminated items, then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose with the same hand, they can also get infected with the virus.

How to Test for Swine Flu

To test for swine flu, your doctor may first carry out a physical examination and ask questions about your symptoms. After these, you may need to run a test to confirm if you have the influenza virus. One of the most common diagnostic tests used in detecting the influenza virus is the rapid influenza diagnostic test. To carry it out, they`d collect a swab sample from your nose or the back of your throat and test for antigens that indicate the presence of the virus strain. Treatment is definitely the next step after being diagnosed with swine flu. What are the treatment options? Keep reading.

How to Treat Swine Flu

The aim of the treatment is to relieve the symptoms of swine flu. These antiviral drugs are the common medical treatments for swine flu are:

  • Peramivir (Rapivab)
  • Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
  • Baloxavir (Xofluza)
  • Zanamivir (Relenza)

Because viruses develop resistance to drugs, medical practitioners usually reserve these drugs for people who suffer high risks of complications from the flu. There are also vaccines available to prevent getting infected with the virus. People who exhibit mild to moderate symptoms of swine flu can attempt to manage the symptoms naturally. We`ll discuss natural ways to manage the symptoms.

Natural Ways to Relieve Swine Flu Symptoms

Stay Hydrated

drinking waterDrink plenty of water and healthy fluids prevents dehydration. Soups are also great for replenishing your body with the lost nutrients.

Rest

Getting a lot of rest is vital, as your immune system can get enough strength to fight the infection.

Take Painkillers

Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also helpful if you take them cautiously.

How to Prevent a Swine Flu Infection

Preventing swine flu is way better than trying to cure it. Here are some tips to prevent the infection.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Ensure that infected persons around you use a face mask to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Avoid crowds if you are at high risk of contracting the flu.
  • Eat healthy meals to build your immune health.
  • Avoid touching their nose, mouth, or eyes.

Healthy Foods to Prevent/Treat Swine Flu

Here are a few healthy foods that can boost your immunity against the swine flu. Let`s take a quick look.

Broth

Having some warm broth will prevent dehydration and relieve congestion.

Garlic

You could add some crushed garlic to your dishes to strengthen your immunity so your body can fight the flu better.

Yogurt

The immune-enhancing qualities of yogurt will help fight the symptoms of flu.

Other foods that can improve your immunity are leafy greens, broccoli, oatmeal, and citrus fruits. Just as there are foods that you should consume to build your immune system, there are some others you should avoid. Alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods are unhealthy for you if you’re at risk of swine flu.¬†Following the diet and prevention tips discussed in this article will help you recover rapidly from swine flu and also prevent the development of secondary infections. If your experience severe symptoms seek medical treatment immediately to prevent complications.

Swine Flu Facts you should Know

Don’t Blame Pigs

Swine flu is a strain of the virus that shares genes with flu viruses that affect pigs, however, pigs are not to blame for the spread of the infection. Contrary to popular opinion, getting the virus doesn’t involve coming in contact with pigs. Some studies even claim that people who have regular contact with pigs may be immune to swine flu. Also, eating pork will not expose a person to the virus.

The Virus is Real

Contrary to conspiracy theories that the virus doesn`t exist, federal health officials estimate that swine flu has affected about 50 million Americans and has killed over 10,000 people. By all means, prevent it, but don`t panic.

Flu Viruses Mutate

Influenza virus genetic material changes periodically, making the viruses a step ahead of vaccine development. Each time the virus mutates into a new strain, the available vaccine may become redundant. For instance, the seasonal flu vaccine that was first issued in the autumn of 2014 couldn`t protect people from the main strain of flu that circulated in the UK that winter.

Swine Flu and Avian flu Aren`t the Same

Unlike swine flu, avian flu does not easily infect humans because the virus has not mutated in a way to make it transmissible. Swine flu, obviously, is transmitted from one human to another.

Surgical Masks that Protect against Swine Flu

Not all surgical masks prevent swine flu. The blue and green surgical masks that people commonly use only attempt to block large virus-containing droplets, leaving the viruses that are relatively smaller to easily pass through. The recommended masks for preventing swine flu are N-95 and N-99.

Now that you Know…

The first step in preventing the virus is awareness. With the information you now have, you are fully equipped to prevent swine flu. It is also vital to educate people around you, as that can keep you safe too. An infected person around you increases your chances of getting infected, no matter how careful you are.