This monsoon season, a 34-year old man came to see me because he’d been nursing a fever and cold symptoms for a week. As the week had progressed, his fever and cold had gotten worse and he’d also developed a cough alongside.
To make things worse, he felt very uneasy and was unable to take full breaths; in the meantime, he had been to see a doctor and was taking the prescribed medicines while he was waiting to feel better.
His examination revealed a serious infection of the lungs, which was most likely a complication of the flu. Given the Swine Flu scenario in Delhi during this time because of the time of the year and the rising diagnoses, I was suspicious that my patient could also be suffering from it.
I sent him to a large hospital Emergency Room for a further test, which confirmed the Swine Flu diagnosis. As I write this blog post, my patient is still in the ICU, and on the path to recovery.
This particular case clearly shows how important it is to take flu-like symptoms seriously. Although the virus causes a mild to moderate flu-like illness in most healthy people, it can become a critical issue if left unattended or un-diagnosed.
Keeping that in mind, I feel it’s important for people to educate themselves about Swine Flu as well as they can. I’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions that will help you understand the symptoms, precautions, and treatment a lot better.
Swine Flu – Frequently Asked Questions
What is Swine Flu and how do I recognize It?
A type of influenza (flu) virus, Swine Flu’s common symptoms are :
- Fever above 38C/100.4F
- Runny nose, sore throat, headache
- Shortness of breath, cough
- Severe tiredness/fatigue
- Aching muscles
The Swine Flu virus transmits via air, e.g. through an infected person who coughs or sneezes around you. It can also be transmitted via contaminated surfaces or objects like handrails, doorknobs, paper money, etc.
I think I have some of these symptoms.What should I do?
If the symptoms are mild, you can stay at home. Rest and take Crocin in the correct dose, as needed.
Consult your Doctor if you have any questions or:
- If you have conditions such as diabetes, neurological conditions, lungdisease, heart, liver or kidney disease
- Are pregnant
- Are over 65
- If any of your symptoms have not improved within 2-3 days
How can I protect myself from Swine Flu?
The best way to protect yourself from Swine Flu is to ensure a clean and sanitary environment. Wash your hands frequently, avoid large crowds as far as possible, and keep a minimum 3-feet distance from someone who shows flu-like symptoms or is frequently coughing and sneezing.
Is there a Vaccine for Swine Flu? And who should take it?
The Swine Flu vaccine is now built in to the seasonal flu vaccine, and it is available at many hospitals. However, you should keep in mind that the vaccine does not offer 100% personal immunity from the disease.
Experts suggest that given that the effects of swine flu are usually mild, healthy people can choose to get this vaccine in consultation with their Doctor.
But the vaccine is recommended for people at a high risk of complications – like pregnant women, diabetics, patients of heart disease, and healthcare workers.
How can I recognize Swine Flu if the symptoms are similar to the regular flu?
If your doctor suspects Swine Flu, based on your clinical assessment, they may prescribe a lab test done with a nasal swab. The test reports are usually available within a day and only select labs across Delhi/NCR are certified to run this test.
Is there treatment for Swine Flu?
Based on the clinical assessment your Doctor may prescribe rest & fluids, in some cases with an anti-viral medication (a common brand is Tamiflu) or refer you to the hospital for admission.