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The Facts About Swine Flu: Common Sense Prevention and Treatment

May 3rd, 2009

swine-flu-prevention-treatment.jpgThe reports about swine flu and increasing number of cases in humans sounds worrying, but before you panic, read the facts about what it is and what you can do to protect yourself against it. Most of these prevention and treatment tips boil down to using common sense, but with so much hysteria in the media over this particular issue, it’s good to have a calm, informative article on the subject so that we can focus our brains on some practical solutions.

What Exactly Is Swine Flu?

Swine flu is a strain of the H1N1 influenza A virus, a respiratory disease that occurs in pigs. However, flu viruses are known to mutate over time, and in this case the virus that affected pigs can now infect humans too.

What Symptoms Does Swine Flu Cause?

The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to normal human flu. They include:

  1. Fever
  2. Coughing
  3. Sore throat
  4. Body aches
  5. Chills
  6. Fatigue and exhaustion
  7. Headaches
  8. Lack of appetite
  9. Occasional vomiting and diarrhea

If people have caught swine flu, they’re contagious for one day before the symptoms actually appear — which is how it can spread without you knowing — and up to seven days from the appearance of symptoms.

What Treatment Is Available?

Tests show that the human version of swine flu can be treated with the antiviral drugs oseltamavir (otherwise known as Tamiflu) and zanamivir (otherwise known as Relenza).

If you think you could have caught swine flu, especially if you’ve been in contact with anyone who’s recently been to Mexico or have recently been there yourself, then it’s best to contact your doctor by phone. Don’t go to the doctor’s surgery or emergency rooms, as you could put other people at risk of the illness and spread the disease further.

To help protect other people such as your friends or family from catching it too, you should:

  1. Cover your nose or mouth when coughing and sneezing and always use a tissue.
  2. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread this way.
  3. Promptly dispose of used tissues, for example by flushing down the toilet.
  4. Maintain good hygiene in the home. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  5. Clean all surfaces in the house, especially door handles, as the virus can be passed from contact with a virus-ridden surface.
  6. If other people are looking after you when you’re ill, they can protect themselves by wearing a face mask. You can also wear a face mask for extra protection.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Swine Flu?

There are some basic health and safety precautions you can take in your quest to protect yourself and your family from contracting swine flu.

  1. As with people who have swine flu, basic hygiene in the home and workplace can reduce the risk of infection. Make sure all surfaces are clean and wipe door handles with a cleaning product.
  2. Avoid close contact with anyone who could be ill.
  3. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after physical contact.
  4. Avoid traveling to areas where there are known cases of swine flu.
  5. You can attempt to boost your immune system by taking Echinacea or a daily vitamin supplement.
  6. Keep current on the latest swine flu developments by listening to the news via television, radio, or updates on the Internet.
  7. If you think you could have swine flu, remember to phone your doctor for advice rather than going in to see them.

It’s a scary scenario, especially when the media start talking about pandemics, but by being aware of the facts and what you can do to reduce the risk, you can be informed and ready to tackle any eventuality that occurs.

Rachel Newcombe is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher specializing in topics relating to health, parenting, foreign property, lifestyle, education, and travel. She is based in the UK but regularly writes for international publications, including magazines in the US, Canada, and India.

2 Responses to “The Facts About Swine Flu: Common Sense Prevention and Treatment”

  1. comment number 1 by: Ireland5

    Good article on swine flu. We have a number of school closings in south Texas. What is everyone else experiencing??

  2. comment number 2 by: Lisa85856

    Interesting stuff. Did you hear that there’s a new strain which is resistant to the anti-flu drugs? Tamiflu etc? Found a really good website called SwineFluDeaths.co.uk for tracking its progress, seems to be updated every hour or so.

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