How To Prevent Swine Flu

With the papers reporting the rising toll of Swine Flu patients, everyone’s getting worried. But just as there is panic, there is also misinformation and misconception. While one shouldn’t take it lightly, being aware of the realities of the epidemic will also prepare you to be cautious.

As much as it seems to be endemic, truth is, Swine Flu isn't as scary as it seemed a few years ago. Still, prevention is important. Here’s all you need to know about the epidemic:


What is Swine Flu

Swine Flu attained its name from the past when people who contracted it were in direct contact with pigs. It is now known as H1N1 Flu as a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn't been near pigs.


Causes of Swine Flu

Swine flu spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. It is contagious and spreads through the tiny drops that spray from someone’s cough or sneeze. You can catch Swine Flu if you come in contact with these drops or touch a surface that an infected person has recently touched. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t come from eating pork products.


Symptoms to watch out for

Most symptoms are the same as seasonal flu - cough, fever, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue. Like seasonal flu, Swine Flu can cause serious complications, including pneumonia and respiratory failure. It worsens conditions like diabetes or asthma.

People with Swine Flu are contagious one day before they have any symptoms and as many as 7 days after they get sick. Kids can be contagious for as long as 10 days.


If you have symptoms like shortness of breath, severe vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, or confusion, call your doctor right away.



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Tests for Swine Flu

As the symptoms are similar, it is difficult to differentiate between Swine and seasonal flu. Only a lab test can tell.



Some of the same antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu also work against H1N1 Swine Flu. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza) can help you get over Swine Flu faster, although some kinds are resistant to Tamiflu. They can arrest it from becoming too severe and work best when taken within 48 hours of the first flu symptoms, but can also help when taken later. Antibiotics won't help as the cause is a virus, not bacteria.


One of the best ways to protect yourself is to get a flu vaccine every year. Swine flu is one of the viruses included in the vaccine.

Over-the-counter pain remedies and cold and flu medications can help relieve aches, pains, and fever. Don't give aspirin to children under age 18 because of the risk for Reye’s Syndrome. Check to make sure that over-the-counter cold medications do not have aspirin before giving them to children.



Wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water. Sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice to make sure you've washed long enough. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Avoid people who are sick. Stay away from crowded places.

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