Symptoms of Swine Flu

The term "swine flu" has caused panic the world over.  Several travelers coming in from Mexico-the country suspected as the source of such virus-have contracted the disease and have been constantly monitored and treated.  Meanwhile, a tourist from Mexico has shown symptoms of the swine flu while checking in at a Hong Kong hotel.  He was placed on quarantine, while the whole hotel was off limits to anybody and its guests were not allowed to come out.

However, before we let panic rule our minds, we need to take a deep breath and be vigilant in learning more about this disease. 

What is swine flu?

It may sound like a new type of virus, but it is actually just a subtype of the influenza A virus called H1N1, which is the most common form of flu among humans as well as among pigs and birds.  However, this type of influenza A virus consists of components found in both pig and bird flu viruses, and humans do not have any immunity to it.  This is why this virus is more likely to go pandemic (or cause a global outbreak), especially that it can easily spread from person to person.

How do we know if we have swine flu?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of swine flu infection are very similar to seasonal flu such as:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue, which can be extreme
  • Occasional diarrhea and vomiting

A more serious swine flu infection may include pneumonia and respiratory failure.

What to do if we have swine flu?

If you or any of your loved ones has shown symptoms of swine flu, keep the patient in quarantine within your home and do not let other people contact him.  Call your physician who might do a rapid flu test to see if the patient indeed has an influenza A infection.  Your doctor will gather samples from the patient’s blood and mucus and sent over at the CDC to see if the patient has swine flu infection. 

Ask your doctor for possible prescription or you can purchase over-the-counter anti-flu medications like oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) and zanamivir (brand name Relenza), which are readily available to prevent and treat swine flu.

Take note that the patient may merely be afflicted with spring allergies, common cold, or sinus infections, which can be easily treated.