H1N1 swine flu: symptoms, causes and treatments

The H1N1 swine flu, better known colloquially only as “swine flu”, is an infection caused by a virus. At first it was believed that this disease was similar to the influenza that occurs in pigs and that it had passed to man through frequent contact with these animals.

Over time it was discovered that the H1N1 swine flu virus actually combines elements of swine, poultry, and human viruses. In 2009 there was an outbreak of this disease and it spread throughout the world, becoming a pandemic.

By 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the pandemic. However, the H1N1 swine flu virus has not disappeared. It is currently considered to be a regular human flu virus. and it has not generated outbreaks again. The flu shot can prevent this infection.

What is the cause?

This disease is easily transmitted.

H1N1 swine flu is caused by a particular strain of influenza. In the vast majority of cases, it is transmitted from person to person and not from an animal to a person. Importantly, this disease is not contracted from eating pork, as is sometimes believed.

Transmission occurs through saliva or mucus particles. It occurs when a person inhales contaminated droplets, produced by coughing or sneezing from someone who is infected.

It is also possible to get H1N1 swine flu when infected droplets fall on a surface. If someone else comes into contact with the same person and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can get the virus.

Risk factor's

During the first outbreak of H1N1 swine flu the most affected were children over 5 years old and young people. This was rare, since precisely these segments of the population tend to be less vulnerable to the effect of viruses.

Currently, risk factors for getting the H1N1 flu are the same as for any other strain of flu. The more contact with infected people, the more chances of contracting the disease.

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On the other hand, those who have a higher risk of complications are the following groups:

  • People over 65.
  • Children under 5 years old.
  • Young adults and people under the age of 19 receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
  • People with immune systems weakened.
  • Those who have chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, or neuromuscular disease.
  • Pregnant women.

Symptoms of H1N1 swine flu

The symptoms of H1N1 swine flu are very similar to those of regular flu.. They may include one or more of the following manifestations:

  • Cough.
  • Throat pain.
  • Stuffy or runny nose.
  • Watery and red eyes
  • Headache.
  • Body aches.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sometimes there is fever and chills.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea and vomiting

As in the case of common influenza, this type of flu can also lead to serious complications. Similarly, in some cases it worsens the symptoms of pre-existing chronic diseases.

Possible complications

In young children, H1N1 swine flu infection can cause symptoms such as the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or very fast breathing.
  • Irritability.
  • Bluish skin.
  • Lack of interaction or awakening.
  • Severe cough and high fever.
  • Rash.

In adults, severe symptoms include the following:

  • Shortness of breath or shortness of breath.
  • Feeling of pressure or pain in the chest or abdomen.
  • Sudden dizziness and / or confusion.
  • Intense and continuous vomiting.
  • Strong cough and high fever.

The disease can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, severe neurological symptoms (such as seizures), or increased severity of chronic diseases such as asthma or heart disease.

Diagnostic tests

H1N1 swine flu is very similar to seasonal or common flu, so tests are required to have an accurate diagnosis. In principle, a differential criterion is that in H1N1 there are usually more digestive symptoms, such as pain in the abdomen and vomiting.

However, the only way to check for swine flu is with a lab test. To do this, a mucus sample is taken with a swab, which is a slightly larger version of those found at home. Such a sample is analyzed and the presence of the disease is thus determined.

Available treatments

Most of the treatment is symptomatic.

Currently, the seasonal flu vaccine also protects against the H1N1 swine flu virus. It is applied by injection or aerosol and is effective in dealing with the infectious agent.

If a person is not vaccinated, the disease can be treated with the same antivirals used to fight the common flu. Its main effect is to reduce symptoms. They are much more effective if they are ingested in the first 48 hours, after the detection of the disease.

On the other hand, if the infection is contracted it is advisable to rest a lot for the immune system to focus on the infection. Also, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and take pain relievers to reduce discomfort.

Prevention and recommendations

The best way to prevent H1N1 swine flu is to get a flu shot. This should be put on once a year and is recommended for all people over 6 months of age. In older adults this is even more necessary.

Also it is important to beware of contact with people who are infected. If you do get the infection, it is best to stay home and cover your mouth and nose to cough and sneeze. You should only leave 24 hours after the fever has subsided.

In general, it is advisable to wash your hands frequently, keep the surfaces of the house clean, especially if someone is infected. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands.

Pregnant women, adults over 65, children under the age of 5, or those with a chronic disease should avoid contact with pigs, even at fairs or similar sites.

A disease that should be watched

Viruses have been a challenge for humanity forever. As in the case of the H1N1 swine flu, they often appear suddenly and uncontrolled. Therefore, it is best to convert prevention measures into lifestyle habits.

Vaccines are an excellent tool to fight viruses. It is very convenient for everyone to have all the vaccines up to date and keep all the precautionary measures to avoid any type of contagion.