H1N1 is simply one of the strains of the flu virus, which causes H1N1 flu, also commonly known as “swine flu” because it was originally found in pigs. The virus is quite contagious and spreads quickly and efficiently between humans, causing symptoms similar to those of regular human flu.
Symptoms and warning signs:
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Vikram Vora, Medical Director, Indian Subcontinent – International SOS, said: “The symptoms and warning signs of H1N1 flu are very similar to those of ordinary human flu and are caused by the growth of the virus in the cells. nose, throat and lungs. These include fever (with or without chills), sore throat, cough, runny/stuffy nose, watery eyes, headache or heaviness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and sometimes diarrhea. Children can sometimes experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, dehydration and, rarely, seizures. These symptoms improve within a few days after infection.
Echoing the same, Dr Kishor Sathe, an emergency medicine specialist at PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC Mumbai, said the warning signs to look out for if someone has caught swine flu or H1N1 are itchy throat, runny nose, fever, body aches, high grade febrile myalgia, cough with expectoration and shortness of breath as these are some of the main symptoms. Adding to the list, Dr Anant Pandhare, Medical Director of Dr Hedgewar Hospital in Aurangabad in Maharashtra said, “Some of the common symptoms are chills, fever, cough, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, sore throats, body aches, runny nose, shortness of breath and need for O2 in some cases that have comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. Severe symptoms of swine flu in young children and infants include dyspnea, apnea, tachypnea, dehydration, etc. In some cases, acute respiratory failure may occur.
While Dr Kishor Sathe revealed that oselatamivir is the drug to treat H1N1, Dr Vikram Vora said: “Most infected people will only need supportive treatment, primarily aimed at relieving symptoms. symptoms. Staying hydrated, taking medicine for fever and pain, and resting usually helps. There are antiviral medications available that can be prescribed within the first few days of infection to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.
He added: “Drugs like oseltamivir are being used, but it is possible that the virus will become resistant to them or not be used correctly. Therefore, use should be medically directed and limited to those at high risk of complications (hospitalized/institutionalized patients, pregnant women, young children with respiratory disease, obese or chronically ill adults, immunocompromised individuals, and individuals over the age of 60 years old). ).”
Key precautions to avoid swine flu or H1N1:
Insisting that prevention is possible, Dr. Vikram Vora asserted that it is based on the adoption of basic measures such as:
1. Be informed – relying on credible medical information is essential for awareness, when it comes to infectious diseases
2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Be sure to dispose of the handkerchief immediately after use, in a safe manner
3. Frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of hand sanitizers
4. Avoid close contact with people who are obviously or suspected of being sick
5. Isolation to avoid passing it on to others
6. Most importantly, getting the annual flu shot helps reduce the risk and severity of H1N1.
Dr. Kishor Sathe suggested: “Avoid crowded and closed places; if you have symptoms, use a face mask. Do not sneeze outdoors; if you are not wearing a mask, sneeze into your elbow. Keep a healthy diet and keep your diabetes under control.
According to Dr. Anant Pandhare, “Despite the contagious nature and severity of this disease, there are several ways to prevent it. To prevent swine flu, wash your hands frequently with soaps or hand sanitizers, do not touch your nose, mouth and eyes as the virus can survive in the open air on any surface, stay home and self-isolate if you are sick and avoid large gatherings when swine flu is in season.
Special precautions and care required specifically for children and the elderly:
Dr. Kishor Sathe advised, “Children should have good sleep and healthy food. If they show symptoms, gargle and wear masks, the same also applies to older people.
Emphasizing that children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to developing complications from influenza (whether caused by H1N1 or other strains of the influenza virus), Dr. Vikram Vora pointed out: “Young children , especially those with other respiratory illnesses, may face an exacerbation of lung disease when infected with H1N1, manifesting as chest pain, fever, and rarely seizures. Older people can also develop complications and should be protected.
He recommended some key protective measures for these vulnerable groups:
1. Keep them away from other sick or apparently sick people
2. Start of timely treatment under competent medical supervision
3. Avoid aspirin (in children and adolescents) to relieve pain and fever
4. Annual administration of the influenza vaccine to young children and the elderly