What To Know About Swine Flu Symptoms + What To Do

This season, the winter flu has come, with health officials warning about the reported cases of swine flu (now called N1H1). Here’s what to know about swine flu symptoms and how it differs from the ‘regular’ flu.

What is swine flu?

To answer this, we need a brief science lesson. Within the flu family, different strains exist. The ‘typical’ flu differs from swine flu (called Influenza A (N1H1)) because it’s a different strain.

N1H1, or ‘swine flu’, is so named because it usually circulates in pigs but is now infecting people. This doesn’t mean people are getting sick from interacting with pigs – the virus spreads from humans to humans. This is called a “variant influenza virus”, according to the World Health Organization. And, interestingly, the same virus was also called the Spanish flu in 1918.

Other strains that people have been infected with include influenza B/Victoria and influenza A(H3N2).

What are the swine flu symptoms?

According to the Western Cape government, these are the typical symptoms of N1H1:

A sudden onset of high fever (usually above  38.3°C)

  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea

Many of these symptoms don’t seem much different from the ‘regular’ flu and the treatment is also much the same. However, there are cases when you should seek emergency care, per the Western Cape government:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or grey skin colour
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

READ MORE: What To Eat To Avoid Colds And Boost Your Immune System, According To A Dietician

What is the treatment for N1H1?

If your case is mild (and not severe), the Western Cape Government advises the following measures:

  • “Stay at home for seven days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer,” the website notes.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (coffee and tea don’t count here: rather stick to water, electrolyte blends and broth.)
  • Take your prescribed medication from a doctor (these may include anti-viral meds)
  • Take painkillers to relieve fever and body aches, like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Important: only take pain medication for instances where you have pain or fever.
  • Throw away used tissues as soon as possible to prevent the spread of infection
  • Wash your hands regularly, to avoid spreading disease.

READ MORE: Are Wellness Shots With Turmeric, Ginger, Or ACV Actually Good For You? A Dietician Weighs In

How to prevent getting ill

Health experts always advocate for regular hand washing, covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing and staying healthy by eating lots of vegetables and drinking plenty of water.

Also, it’s a very good idea to get a flu vaccine. These can be done at your doctor, clinic or pharmacy. If you’re at risk of having a severe case of flu, you should get a vaccine. Per the South African Government News Agency, people at risk include:

  • Adults older than 65
  • Pregnant people
  • People with underlying illnesses such as heart and lung disease 
  • People living with HIV and tuberculosis

READ MORE: 3 Superfoods To Add To Your Grocery List This Winter 

Michelle October

Michelle is the features editor at WH. She’s immensely curious about the world, passionate about health and wellness and enjoys a good surf when the waves are good. Find her on Instagram here.

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