H1N1 Flu

November 12, 2012

H1N1 Flu

H1N1 flu, or swine flu, is a respiratory tract infection caused by the H1N1 virus. The infection generally occurs in pigs. Humans infections happen occasionally, and can spread from person to person on contact with the respiratory fluids.

Causes

The H1N1 virus is a small living particle that consists of an outer shell which protects the mass of genetic material present inside. Once inside the human cell, the viral genetic material blends with human DNA and makes hundreds of copies of themselves. The new viruses burst out of the human cell and move on to infect more cells. The H1N1 is a type A influenza virus that can be found in humans as well as in pigs.

Humans usually get the infection from infected pigs. The virus then starts spreading from person to person through the respiratory fluids, which enter the air when the infected individual coughs or sneezes. The virus can spread when another person comes in contact with these respiratory droplets.

Symptoms

H1N1 symptoms are similar to other types of flu. Most patients experience fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting may occur in rare cases. Individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease may experience more pronounced H1N1 symptoms. You should seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, high fever, dizziness, chest pain, confusion and persistent vomiting.

Treatment

Your doctor may confirm the diagnosis of H1N1 symptoms after thorough physical examination. Laboratory tests and other diagnostic procedures are rarely prescribed. Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. Antiviral medications may be prescribed to inhibit the growth of the virus in your body. These are usually available in form of pills, liquids and inhalers. The H1N1 symptoms improve in most people without any antiviral medications. In fact, these medications should be taken within 48 hours after the symptoms appear, and are generally recommended only in moderate to severe cases.

Mild H1N1 symptoms may be treated using anti-fever medications and plenty of fluids. The very young and the very old may require hospitalization. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 18 years as it may increase their risk of Rye’s syndrome, which can lead to brain and liver damage.

Prevention

You can take several steps to prevent H1N1 symptoms:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing,

  • Avoid close contact with infected individuals.

  • Get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food and drink lots of fluids.

  • Regular exercise will also boost the functioning of your immune system.

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