Swine influenza or swine flu is an infection caused by any one of several types of swine influenza viruses. Swine flu virus is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs.
Swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations whereas transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human flu. Cases of swine flu have been reported in India, with approximately 31,156 positive test cases and 1,841 deaths up to March 2015.
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How Does Swine Influenza Affect Your Body?
The first effect of swine flu on the body is a fever with chills and muscle aches and a feeling of general weakness, fatigue, and a headache. Swine flu is caused by a virus that infects the respiratory system which as a result, effects on the throat, nose, and lungs. The nose may also become congested or runny, the throat may become sore, and a dry cough may be present.
What Are The Causes of Swine Influenza?
Swine influenza viruses infect the cells lining the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus enters the body when one inhale contaminated droplets or transfer the live virus from a contaminated surface to the eyes, nose or mouth.
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What Are The Risk Factors of Swine Influenza?
- People travelled or travelling to areas affected by swine flu (H1N1 flu) are at greater risk of swine flu virus.
- Farmer and veterinarians have the highest risk of true swine flu because of their exposure to pigs.
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What Are The Symptoms of Swine Influenza?
In swine flu following symptoms are produced:
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased appetite.
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How is Swine Influenza Diagnosed?
- Blood tests – This test is done to rule bacterial infection leading to flu-like symptoms.
- Nasopharyngeal swab sample – This test is done to see if the patient is infected with influenza A or B virus.
- Chest X-ray – This is done to test for complications like pneumonia.
How To Prevent And Control Swine Influenza?
- Stay home if you have swine flu (H1N1 flu) for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for 30 seconds at least or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inner crook of your elbow.
- Stay away from crowd if you’re at a risk of getting infected especially if younger than 5 or older, if pregnant, or have a chronic medical condition such as asthma.
Treatment of Swine Influenza – Allopathic Treatment
Medications used are:
- Antiviral drugs – Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza); all these work well against the H1N1 virus and help get well faster.
- Over-the-counter pain remedies – These medications can help relieve aches, pains, and fever and include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen.
Treatment of Swine Influenza – Homeopathic Treatment
- Gelsemium – This is prescribed when there is running nose, and sneezing accompanied by pain in the eyes and head.
- Eupatorium perfoliatum – This is indicated in fever with chill followed by vomiting of bile. Shivering runs down the back and spreads to extremities with sneezing, hoarseness and loose cough.
- Bryonia alba – This is indicated when flu is complicated with pneumonia.
- Arsenic album – This is given when the nasal discharge leads to a burning sensation and is accompanied by sneezing.
- Rhus Toxicodendron – This is effective for swine flu with a constant chill as if cold water was poured over the body or as if the blood ran cold through the veins.
- Causticum – This is given when there is high fever, flushed face, no chilliness, could hardly get out of bed.
- Oscillococcinum – Considered as the placebo; controlled studies show that this medicine is effective for swine flu, it shortens the duration of flu symptoms and can also be used for the prevention of swine flu.
Swine Influenza – Lifestyle Tips
- Get infants younger than 6 months of age vaccinated.
- Drink plenty of liquids including water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration.
- Get proper rest and more sleep to help your immune system fight infection.
- Consider, over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), cautiously.
- Children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome which is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
- Prolonged use of ibuprofen may cause stomach pain, bleeding, and ulcers. Be cautious while using these medicines.
What Are The Recommended Exercises For a Person With Swine Influenza?
No specific exercise is recommended for people with swine influenza.
Swine Influenza & Pregnancy – Things to Know
- Pregnant women are at higher risk of getting swine influenza especially because of changes in the immune system.
- As the fetus grows, there’s more pressure on mother’s breathing and lung function which increases the chance of developing pneumonia when infected with the virus.
- This can compromise the mother’s health as well as the development of the fetus.
- Pregnant women living in an area where the virus is common, need to be highly cautious.
Common Complications Related to Swine Influenza
- Respiratory problem
- Worsening of chronic conditions including heart disease and asthma
- Neurological symptoms, ranging from confusion to seizures
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Q. Is it possible to catch H1N1 flu twice?
A. Yes; as the virus mutate (change), the body won’t recognize the strain making you ill.
Q. Does seasonal influenza vaccine protect against swine influenza.
A. No; getting seasonal influenza vaccines won’t protect you against swine flu.