Since 2009, there have been concerns about a worldwide swine flu epidemic. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the pandemic stopped in August of 2010, swine flu has not been eradicated and is especially prevalent in Mexico. Also known as hog flu, pig flu or the H1N1 virus, this is a potentially deadly strain of influenza that can be prevented.Despite the names, no one can get swine flu from eating pork or other products made from pigs, although pigs can get this virus. Those most at risk of exhibiting swine flu symptoms are livestock workers, anyone living in Mexico, pregnant women, children 2 years old or younger, the obese, asthmatics, diabetics or anyone taking medications which may hamper the body’s natural immune system.Common SymptomsThe most common swine flu symptoms are similar to the common influenza virus, such as:
- Fever, sometimes with chills
- Headaches or body aches
- Sore throat with or without coughing
- Runny nose or a stuffed-up nose
- Nausea that may lead to vomiting or dry heaving
- Chronic fatigue
Any child exhibiting swine flu symptoms should ideally be kept away from other people for one week to avoid spreading this highly contagious influenza strain. These swine flu symptoms are also similar to strep throat, allergies, the common cold or an upper respiratory infection. Fortunately, there are tests that can determine just what type of ailment a child or adult is suffering from. This is essential for getting a patient the right medication. For example, antibiotics are useless for swine flu because they do not kill viruses, only bacteria.Uncommon Symptoms
These swine flu symptoms are uncommon and serious. They indicate the patient is failing fast and needs to go to a hospital immediately. These symptoms include:
- Blue-tinged skin
- Grey-tinged skin
- Continual vomiting and being unable to keep down fluids
- Breathing problems
- Extreme drowsiness
- Feeling so achy and sore that the patient does not want to be touched
- Improvement in common symptoms and then a sudden return and intensification of the common symptoms
Complications of untreated swine flu include developing pneumonia, ear infections, complete respiratory failure or a worsening of any other illnesses the patient may already suffer from, such as arthritis, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It is these complications which can lead to death.
Swine flu can be prevented by getting an annual flu shot. Although flu shots do not immunize you against all strains of the flu, they do immunize you from the strain that causes swine flu symptoms, H1N1. Those in the high risk groups for catching swine flu should always get their annual flu shot.
Another way to prevent swine flu from spreading is to cover your mouth when coughing and wash your hands as often as possible after blowing one’s nose or caring for someone with the flu. Anyone diagnosed with the swine flu should stay home from work, school or other public activities to avoid spreading the virus.