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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu: Everything you need to know

If you suspect you have the swine flu, or if you have recently traveled to Mexico or had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with it, definitely do not panic. Most of the cases of the flu are no different than the common flu contacted on a daily basis.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the swine flu (more commonly referred to as h1n1 influenza virus) is contacted from infected pigs, and infects the cells lining your nose, throat, and lungs. The virus enters your body when you inhale contaminated droplets or transfer live virus from a contaminated surface to your eyes, nose or mouth on your hand.

The virus is not airborne. It can only be contacted if you breathe in actual air droplets from a contaminated person, such as when a contaminated person sneezes. For this reason, a basic mask over your mouth and nose, along with good hand washing, can help prevent the spread of this virus.
The following are the symptoms of the swine flu to watch out for as recorded by the the Mayo Clinic. They usually occur 3-5 days after contact with the virus is made:
  1. Fever
  2. Cough
  3. Sore throat
  4. Body aches
  5. Headache
  6. Chills
  7. Fatigue
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Vomiting
The Mayo Clinic reports that you should:
"See your doctor immediately if you develop flu symptoms, such as fever, cough and body aches, and you have recently traveled to an area where H1N1 swine flu has been reported. Be sure to let your doctor know when and where you traveled. Doctors have rapid tests to identify the flu virus, but there is no rapid test to differentiate swine influenza A H1N1 from other influenza A subtypes."
For more information to help decrease your chances of getting the virus click on over to the CDC. The key here is to see your doctor. You do not need to panic and inundate already busy emergency rooms. I think that is one of the main concerns of the government is a panic will ensue, and ER's will be inundated and overwhelmed.

So, don't panic. Call your doctor if you think you have the flu and have comfort knowing most cases are generally mild and no more potent than the normal flu people get on a yearly bases.

Technically speaking, there is no treatment for the disease other than to treat the symptoms. For example, if vomiting causes diarrhea, re hydration methods may be indicated. If you have asthma, or other chronic lung disease, your doctor may prescribe additional anti-inflammatory medicines such as oral prednisone.

There two antiviral drugs on the market the swine flu appears to be sensitive to, which may reduce symptoms and duration of the flu. They are called Tamiflu and Relenza. When the government declared a state of emergency yesterday, they basically made back up supplies of these drugs available to all areas in need.

However, most experts contend that if you suspect you have the flu you need to let your doctor know ASAP because Tamiflu and Relenza are most effective if given within the 1st 48 hours.

The key here is not to panic. Even if a pandemic is declared at some point (as of yet is has not), it is important to know that most cases of swine flu are mild and will pass without any long term complications.

The most important thing you can do is know that the swine flu can be obtained from person to person contact, or by touching surfaces containing the virus. So, the Center for Disease Control recommends the following to Prevent yourself from getting the Swine flu:
"First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick."
There, that's all you need to know about the swine flu. Don't panic, but be vigilant and wash your hands often, which is something you should do all the time anyway. If you suspect another person, such as a patient has the flu, wear a mask.

For the latest updates on swine flu and flu symptoms, click here.


Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this. Hopefully more people will read this and realize that they don't have to walk around with a mask on or anything.

Anonymous said...

The NYPD going in/out of ER waiting rooms are wearing their N-95's....but New York is a hot spot for H1N1. Unfortunately, if a patient at risk for secondary complications due to an underlying medical condition gets Strep. Pneum., HIB, or Staph Aureous afer their H1N1, life gets a little more interesting. QUESTION: How many available sophisticated vents are larger hospitals likely to have above and beyond their everyday normal respiratory problem patients??? Just curious what we are looking at. Living in a High H1N1 State, I can say that the only ones who have the antivirals are the hospitals and the ER's. My local doctor and pharmacy would be hard put to treat an at risk patient with suspected H1N1 if the need arose.