Symptoms of H1N1

“The virus is now unstoppable.”

Dr. Margret Chan, Director, World Health Organization

June 11, 2009


Thankfully, Dr. Chan was wrong!  Yes, the H1N1 virus is serious, but it is now obvious that there are things that you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the impact of the H1N1 virus.

However, we do need to stay aware of the possibility of new cases of Swine Flu during the next few months.  According to some experts the H1N1 virus might reemerge in March or April, so you do need to stay aware of the latest H1N1 news.

Swine Flu News Tracker

Our Swine Flu News Tracker in pulls the latest stories from the government, medical, and scientific press, so there are a lot of stories over there that you will never see in your local newspaper or on Yahoo! News.

In fact, the Swine Flu News Tracker covers the primary sources that journalists use when they are covering H1N1, so you might want to bookmark it and check back regularly, particularly if you are involved in public health.

Symptoms of H1N1

The symptoms of H1N1 in people are similar to the symptoms of common seasonal flu. The common symptoms of H1N1 Flu include:

  • Fever – particularly a fever of over 100 degrees
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Chills and fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Occasionally, vomiting and diarrhea

Persons who experience flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their physician, but, remember, Swine Flu is a highly contagious disease and people who believe they are infected with H1N1 should avoid going out in public unless absolutely necessary. So, call first.

H1N1 Warning Signs

People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu, including people over the age 65, and children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are infected with HIV should be extra vigilant in looking for the symptoms of H1N1.

However, anyone with asthma or other respiratory illness, and perhaps even heavy smokers should be extra vigilant, because what makes severe cases of H1N1 more severe than regular flu is the way that it attacks the respiratory system. Seasonal flu is largely an upper respiratory illness, but in severe cases H1N1 moves deeper into the lungs and causes viral pneumonia. It is the complications from the pneumonia that has caused the vast majority of Swine Flu deaths.

Because young children often cannot explain how they are feeling it especially important to keep an eye out for children who are having difficulty breathing.

If any person, but particularly small children and others in high risk groups, exhibit any of the following serious warning signs, seek immediate emergency medical care:

  • Trouble breathing, including rapid breathing.
  • Gray or bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Sleeping constantly and not interacting when awake
  • Being especially irritable
  • Not urinating or no tears when crying
  • The symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

H1N1 Symptoms: Summary

Nearly, everything you learned about the symptoms of traditional flu is true of H1N1 Flu, but you should also look for the beginning of pneumonia type symptoms, particularly among anyone has a pre-existing respiratory illness.

In simple layman’s terms the severe cases of Swine Flu are basically the seasonal flu and viral pneumonia. Most cases are NOT severe, but the worse cases can be fatal, usually because of respiratory complications.

What worries public health professionals is that the vaccine for H1N1 is not widely available yet, though one is being manufactured, and the vaccine for the regular flu will not be effective against this newly discovered strain.

Also, that means, if the vaccines are available, you will need two flu shots to be fully protected from both H1N1 and the normal seasonal variety of the flu.

Finally, the simple fact that the virus is new is a real concern, because there is concern that it might mutate into something more deadly. Remember, the regular seasonal flu strain kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year, and, so, even if H1N1 turns out to be no more virulent than the regular flu that is still an awful disaster on the grandest scale.

At this point it is hard to know what the ultimate out come of the H1N1 pandemic will be. Be prepared, but don’t panic.

Products For Treatment of H1N1

There are numerous products on the market designed to prevent or for treatment of H1N1. Some of these products may be great, but consumers need to be VERY wary of products that make extraordinary claims. The H1N1 pandemic has brought out all sorts of kooks and con men offering instant cures.

In the United States the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have teamed up to crack down on business making unsubstantiated medical claims. Download a PDF list of business and products censured by the FDA.

Some advocates of alternative medicine and supporters of consumers making their own medical decisions have railed against the FDA for being overly aggressive, because they generally require expensive, time-consuming peer-reviewed scientific studies before they will approve a product for use.

Though, it is easy to understand the frustration of people who want to make their own decisions about their personal health care, the FDA is trying to prevent the sort of medical fraud that can kill people.

Furthermore, consumers should carefully research any product and come to their own conclusion before making a purchase.

With that disclaimer in mind, here are the products and services that most well educated consumers should probably consider.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers are sometimes used in laboratory settings to control airborne infection, but the FDA does NOT recommend air purifiers to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, apparently because it is unrealistic to assume anyone actually lives in a sterile laboratory.  Frankly, that makes a lot of sense.

Furthermore, they have reprimanded several manufactures of air purifiers for making unverified claims, but CleanAir4Life.com offers a variety of air purifiers that they assert eliminate viruses, including the H1N1 virus. They make some very strong claims, but they also offer a lot of compelling evidence, particularly for the Airfree models.

However, you should remember that even a perfect air purifier is worthless if you do not follow good standards of hygiene and public health.

Medical Supplies

There are also a lot of choices for medical supplies, such as masks, disinfectants, and hand cleaners. Frankly, you can probably buy most items you might need at your local pharmacy or supermarket, but if you believe you need hospital quality medical supplies you should price them at iMed.com

Medical masks are probably the most common item that you might want to order from a medical supply company, because if you are going to the effort to wear a mask you probably want to go ahead and buy form fitting hospital quality masks, known as N95 respirators, which might not be easily available in your local drugstore.

However, you should note that the experts are not sure how effective even the N95 masks are at preventing the spread of H1N1.

Medication

The FDA has approved the prescription antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza for the treatment of H1N1 Flu. You probably want to purchase these and other prescription medication from your local pharmacy.

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