Do you have swine flu or just the flu?

There are some definite symptoms of swine flu that you need to watch out for. A mouth swab can ascertain the presence of the illness before treatment begins.

It sparked worldwide panic a decade ago, but swine flu has all but been tamed today. However, there are cases of swine flu every year in many countries, especially in the tropics. There are a few vaccines to help deal with the illness. If you or a family member has contracted it, it is best to consult a doctor right away.

What is swine flu?

The first instances of swine flu were reported in the year 2009, when the illness caused several deaths around the world. It was classified as a ‘highly infectious’ and ‘potentially fatal disease’. Today, it has been downgraded to ‘Infectious but not fatal’.

The illness originates from pigs, who exhibit such symptoms of swine flu as high fever, wheezing cough, and inability to eat. The H1N1 strains of the virus that causes swine flu are spread between pigs when infected animals sneeze and spray droplets in their surroundings – these can come in contact with healthy pigs and cause the illness. The mode of transmission to humans and between humans is also the same.

The symptoms of swine fluinclude:

  • High fever
  • Cold and wheezing cough that causes a painful, sore throat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Headache and body pain

You might feel nauseous and unable to eat. The swine flu is rapidly spread when infected humans do not cover their faces while sneezing or coughing – the infected droplets can be inhaled or touched by others, thereby spreading the infection. Though there is no cure for the illness, swine flu is not fatal but it can cause acute respiratory distress to those who have pre-existing respiratory trouble. Your doctor will take a mouth swab to ascertain the presence of the virus. They will then prescribe a course of Tamiflu tablets to keep the symptoms of swine flu under control.

What you can do to keep yourself safe

* Maintain the highest levels of hygiene. The hands are the biggest carriers of infectious germs. Break the cycle of disease by washing the hands every hour with antibacterial hand wash soap. Also keep a hand sanitiser in your bag to use if you inadvertently shake hands with an infected person, or touch their tissues. Cover your face with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

* Caring for a sick person properly is important. A family member suffering from swine flu will need to be quarantined. Handle their clothes with gloves on, and wash them separately with a measure of antibacterial liquid to ensure complete disinfection.

* Rest and take meds.You must wait for the virus to ride over and dissipate. Resting adequately, drinking a lot of water and completing your course of medication will help.

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