Bisher AKIL, MD

Do I have the Swine flu?

In General Health on April 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Many of us are concerned about the Swine flu. As a physician in Medical practice, I received a lot of call from my patients about this. So here I will try to answer some:

1. What is Swine Flu? :Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs.

2. Is it contagious? Do I have to go to Mexico to get it? CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people. People who have it can pass it on to others.

3. If I have it what do I feel? The symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.  Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

4. How can I tell if it is Swine Flu from regular flu?: probably the most telling symptom is fever. Swine flu usually brings on fever above 100.5F, which is not common with regular flu.

5. How can I get infected with Swine flu? Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

6. How soon can one infect other? Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

7. How long would the flu virus stay infectious if it is on a door knob or handle or other hard surfaces? In addition to the droplets from coughing or sneezing, germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. the virus will remain contageous probably for 24- hours after dropping on a surface.

8. How can I protect myself  from the flu? First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. 

9. What can I do to protect myself from getting sick? There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

   * Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

    * Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

    * Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

    * Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

    * If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

10. Is there any good news? Swine Flu responds to treatment, and we have two medications that can treat it (Tamiflu, Relenza). These medications must be started within the first 48 hours of symptoms. These medication do not prevent the infection, but rather treat it. Do not take thee medications unless there is high level of suspicion for Swine flu.

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