Swine Flu – Pictures, Facts, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Swine flu is so named because it is caused by the influenza virus that usually infects pigs. It causes symptoms similar to regular flu, like fever, fatigue, headache, cough, nasal secretions, lethargy and decreased appetite. The flu is also found to cause diarrhea and vomiting in some individuals; while others do not have fever but still develop respiratory symptoms. Swine flu can be deadly for people who have preexisting medical conditions.

This form of viral infection can be treated in various ways. It should be noted that treatment will only reduce the severity of the symptoms to provide relief and prevent serious complications from happening. The treatment is usually a combination of colds and/or fever medicines, healthy diet, rest and drinking plenty of liquids. Antiviral medications are available but are used cautiously due to the chances of developing drug resistance. Additional prescriptions are given to those with preexisting medical conditions.

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Causes of swine flu

Swine flu occurs when the H1N1 virus (or influenza A virus) finds its way to the human body. The virus causes respiratory disease in swine or pigs. In humans, the H1N1 virus also results in respiratory symptoms by infecting the cells of the lungs, throat and nose. Just like regular flu, swine influenza is also contagious and people can catch it through contact with:

  • Infected swine

Pig farms and seasonal swine fairs are the avenues where people can contract the virus. It is important to note that contrary to popular belief, humans can’t get infected by eating pork.

  • Infected humans

People can catch the virus after inhaling or ingesting droplets of nasal or respiratory secretions from an infected person from sneezing or coughing. The virus can also find its way into the body through the mouth, nose and eyes after touching infected surfaces and objects.

People who work in swine farms, such as farmers or veterinarians, are especially at risk of contracting the virus directly from pigs. Going to swine fairs or areas where many people are sick due the H1N1 virus increases the odds of catching swine flu.

Symptoms of swine flu

An infected person can feel the effects of the H1N1 from 1 to 3 days after catching the virus. He or she can infect others a day before the symptoms appear up until his or her recovery. Swine flu has the same symptoms as that of regular flu, like:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The severity of these symptoms is different in each person, ranging from mild to severe. Fever is sometimes absent in some individuals. Still, the symptoms can be extremely bothersome for some individuals and a visit to the doctor should be done the soonest. This is especially true for pregnant women, children aged 5 years old and younger, and the elderly.

People with chronic medical conditions should seek immediate treatment as well.  These ailments include diabetes, asthma, heart disease, pneumonia, emphysema, kidney and liver diseases and HIV infection.

It is extremely important for infected individuals to avoid close contact with high-risk people in order to spare them from the life-threatening complications of H1N1 virus to their health.

Treatment of swine flu

Swine flu treatment does not completely eliminate the infection but it does help in alleviating the symptoms. The first line of treatment for this kind of viral infection includes:

  • Rest

The immune system works double time to fight the infection and resting is a great boost to help fend off the virus.

  • Dehydration

Dehydration will most likely occur, and so replenishing the fluids lost through fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea is extremely important. Patients should increase their fluid intake.  These include as water, juices, warm soups and sports drinks.

  • Over the counter pain relievers

Pain relievers can greatly aid in dealing with body aches, muscle and joint pains, fever and headaches.

Those who develop severe symptoms are typically given anti-viral drugs. Most likely, these individuals belong to the high-risk group and additional medications might be given to relieve other symptoms or treat secondary complications. Around 90% to 95% of the cases of swine flu resolve with timely treatment. However, the mortality rate is quite high among those with preexisting medical conditions, particularly for those in their 50s and 60s.

Prevention of swine flu

The chances of catching the swine flu virus can be significantly reduced if a person is vaccinated with the H1N1 flu vaccine. Should it prove impossible for an individual to get the H1N1 flu shot, the following safety measures may help in the prevention of catching the virus and thwart the spread of the disease.

  • Regular hand washing
  • Avoiding touching surfaces or objects which are potentially infected
  • Staying away from crowded areas
  • Wearing the appropriate mask

If one has already been infected, he or she should quarantine himself/herself and follow the above mentioned preventive measures to avoid spreading the virus to other people. Of course, a visit to the doctor is required so that the condition can be assessed and the suitable treatment method can be started.

Swine flu pictures



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