Swine flu, also known as H1N1, hit at the end of the 2009 flu season, causing serious respiratory infection in many people. The virus moved quickly and spread to nearly everywhere in the world, causing the World Health Organization to call it a global pandemic. The pandemic was declared over in August 2010, but the swine flu continues to cause infections.
Each year, there are several strains of the flu virus, all with similar symptoms. Like other flu viruses, the swine flu symptoms include a high fever, aches, chills, sore throat, coughing and fatigue. Some people might also experience diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms vary from person to person. Some people are hit hard by the symptoms while others have a milder case.
The swine flu is passed from one person to the next. Droplets from the infected person’s cough or sneeze can pass the virus to another person. You can also pick up the swine flu virus by touching a surface that was contaminated by an infected individual. If you touch the surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the virus can enter the body.
Because it is a virus, the swine flu often runs its course on its own. The swine flu can develop into a serious respiratory problem, especially for those in higher risk groups. High-risk individuals include people who are hospitalized, have shortness of breath, under 5 years, over 65, pregnant or have certain conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and emphysema. These individuals may receive antiviral drugs to prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
While you likely have to work through the symptoms until the swine flu goes away, you can try to alleviate some of the symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers often help with the aches and can reduce a fever. Plenty of rest gives your immune system a chance to work against the virus. Drinking lots of clear fluids prevents dehydration.
The annual flu shot typically includes multiple flu strains that are predicted to be prevalent that year. If the swine flu is predicted to be a problem in a particular year, it might be added to the vaccine. Limiting your exposure to others, especially those who are sick, reduces the risk of picking up the virus. Hand washing is another way to keep the germs at bay. Avoid spreading the swine flu to other members of your family by coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue.