Your Medical Guide to the H1N1, Otherwise Known as Swine Flu Virus
A brief overview of the H1N1 virus
The H1N1, also popularly known as the swine flu, became a pandemic in the year 2009. This was the year when this virus was discovered as it affected a number of people. The H1N1 is said to be a new strain of virus that is mostly a combination of human influenza, swine and avian. The main cause of the swine flu is physical proximity with pigs, however, this hasn’t been the notion as this disease has spread amongst many humans, even those who haven’t had any contact what so ever with pigs. If one has to describe a particular disease, the normal way would be to first mention what the disease is, then comes the causes and symptoms and lastly tests and treatments. This article will go about this format, so one can go about in a systematic manner. The reason the H1N1 virus is also called swine “flu” is because it spreads like normal flu. The person with this virus experiences coughing and sneezing due to which the virus contaminates the air in the form of tiny droplets and particles. If a healthy person gets in contact with the same air, he or she will also get this disease. It is just like a normal viral cold or flu and due to this people who have never had any contact with any pig, have become victims of this pandemic. The level of a person being contagious in terms of spreading the disease by coughing or any other contact, determines on the age of a person. In most adults, after the person gets sick, he or she is contagious for up to seven days. However, this figure varies in children as they can stay contagious for up to ten days, due to weakened immune system. There is often a common misconception that swine flu can also be caught by eating pork products such as ham or bacon. This isn’t the case as such products are cooked at high temperatures which eliminate the virus from them. Usually it is recommended that you heat or cook any pork related products to around 160 Fahrenheit, in order to avoid any possible chance of contamination.
Coming on to the symptoms of this virus; H1N1 shows symptoms quite similar to the seasonal cold, flu and influenza virus. Hence, the swine flu is often misdiagnosed as being a common cold. The usual symptoms include cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, sneezing, fever, chills, body aches, vomiting and nausea and fatigue or tiredness. If the disease isn’t treated within time, it could lead to serious consequences, such as respiratory problems, pneumonia especially amongst people suffering from diabetes or asthma. Hence, it is of essential importance that this virus is diagnosed and treated within a certain time period or it can bring grave complications. This virus is especially harmful for those with a weakened immune system as their body cannot cope up with the virus’s strong hold. In case the victim starts experiencing dizziness, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, confusion and severe vomiting, one should immediately call for an ambulance, as this situation can become life-threatening.
In order to cure this virus, doctors first have to determine whether it is a common cold or H1N1. For this purpose lab tests usually determine whether the victim has seasonal flu or the swine flu. Rapid test conduction with anti-biotic courses can lead to false negatives being showed on the tests results. The doctor usually withdraws a sample from your throat or your nose to be tested. Coming onto the treatment, the H1N1 cannot be treated with the same anti-biotic as they do not work of this disease. There are some anti-viral medicines that are given to the patients which work most effectively. Along with the anti-viral medicines patients are usually given Tylenol to counter the headaches and body aches due to high fever. One must note that pain killers cannot treat the disease; they only help to lower body related aches, especially in children. In the year 2011, the swine flu vaccine was introduced to help people fight this disease. H1N1 vaccination is present in two different forms and you can take it in whatever form you feel is more comfortable. You can either, take flu shots which contains dead bacteria of the same virus or you can take a weakened form of the actual virus. The second type of vaccination helps your body to fight against this disease. Other ways to prevent this disease includes refraining from any physical contact and keeping yourself clean and hygienic.